From time to time, the media report on brutal and sometimes tragic outcomes when hazing incidents go unchecked.
For example, a fraternity at Miami University here in Ohio was recently suspended by administrators following a report of hazing. The report was made by a pledge through a university hotline on March 20. It detailed an incident that occurred the evening of March 16 at the Delta Tau Delta fraternity house, during which the pledge wasn't permitted to leave, though he asked. He reported being forced to drink large amounts of alcohol and smoke marijuana, and suffered "paddling leading to bruising and cuts with a paddle with spikes."
Eventually, according to the report, the student was transported to a hospital where he spent the next seven hours being treated. There is no indication as to whether the student has taken legal action, though Ohio law is clear that such an action is viable.
Ohio statute defines "hazing" as doing any act or coercing another, including the victim, to do any act of initiation into any student or other organization that causes or creates a substantial risk of causing mental or physical harm to any person.
Ohio is one of 44 states with anti-hazing laws. Since 1983, Ohio, under RC 2307.44, has provided for civil liability where a person suffers injury or damages resulting from hazing. An action under this statute may be brought against several types of defendants, including individual participants in the hazing. Importantly, the law doesn't limit civil liability for hazing to institutions of higher education.
If you or a family member has suffered harm as a result of a hazing incident, please call our team at Beausay & Nichols to see if we can help. For additional resources, visit hazingprevention.org.