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Family Files Massachusetts Wrongful Death Case Against Boston University Fraternity

The parents of Anthony Barksdale II are suing the Boston University chapter of the Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity for Massachusetts wrongful death. Their son, a college freshman, died after getting drunk at a pledge party in 2013. He was looking to become a fraternity member.

At the time of his death Barksdale was 18, which is below the legal drinking age. He was a given a 1.5 liter bottle of vodka to drink at the fraternity and reportedly became very intoxicated before collapsing. His family, in their Boston wrongful death case, contend that no one called for help until later in the evening when Barksdale started throwing up.

Paramedics who arrived at the scene were unable to revive him. Barksdale was pronounced dead at a Brighton, MA hospital.

Autopsy results state his cause of death as acute ethanol intoxication including acute aspiration pneumonia. Barksdale’s blood alcohol level was .33%, which is way above the .08% blood alcohol content of someone who is considered legally intoxicated.

Also named as defendants are three fraternity members, including then-fraternity chapter vice president Jacob F. Beck, then-fraternity president Alex L. Cuetara, and Edmond Gamelin III, also a fraternity brother at the time. Barksdale’s family claims that the party was held in Allston and that the University was not notified about the event because there would be underage attendees.

If you believe that someone else’s negligence caused the death of your loved one, you should speak with an experienced Boston injury law firm right away. Malice or deliberate intent to harm does not have to be present for there to be grounds for a lawsuit.

Unfortunately, injuries to initiates seeking to join a fraternity and sorority during pledge week are not uncommon. Alcohol poisoning from excessive drinking is a common cause of injury or illness. Sometimes, serious injuries may also arise when pledges are asked to engage in games and other initiations.

Just this month, the family of another college freshman sued Baruch College for $25 million for his wrongful death. They also have filed complaints against the Pi Delta Psi fraternity and dozens of its members.

Michael Deng was pledging at the fraternity when he got hurt during a ritual that required he use a blindfold, wear a backpack containing 20 pounds of sand, and walk across a field covered in snow while fraternity members charged and tackled him. He sustained a head injury.

The fraternity members, however, were instructed by the organization’s president to hide the evidence instead of calling 911. They didn’t drive Deng to the hospital until after Googling his symptoms. His death was later ruled a homicide.

In Massachusetts, contact our Boston injury law firm today. Organizations and their members can be held liable for personal injury or wrongful death if their negligence, harmful actions, failure to act, inadequate supervision, or other behaviors contributed to the victim’s harm. Contact Altman & Altman, LLP today.

BU Fraternity, former members sued in 2013 death, The Boston Globe, May 18, 2015

Parents of Boston University fraternity pledge file wrongful death lawsuit, Fox News/AP, May 19, 2015

NYC’s Baruch College Hit with $25M Lawsuit in Fraternity Hazing Death, NBC News, May 12, 2015