Bogenberger v. Pi Kappa Alpha Corp., Inc.

David attended a pledge event at Northern Illinois University's Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity. Vodka-laden hazing ensued. By the end of the night, David’s blood alcohol level reached more than five times the legal limit. David lost consciousness and died during the night. His estate sued the fraternity’s national organizations: the local chapter and its members; and certain non-member sorority women. The circuit court dismissed. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed the dismissal of the national organizations. The complaint’s allegations were insufficient to allege an agency relationship under which the Nationals would be vicariously liable for the conduct of the local members. An affirmative duty to aid or protect another against an unreasonable risk of physical harm or to control the conduct of another arises only within the context of a legally recognized “special relationship” that did not exist here. The other defendants may be sued for negligence. While no liability for the sale or gift of alcoholic beverages exists in Illinois outside of the Dramshop Act, the court noted the differences between a social host situation and an alcohol-related hazing event. A hazing injury is reasonably foreseeable and is likely to occur; the burden of guarding against injury is small, and the consequences of placing that burden on the members are reasonable. The women were more than guests. They were an integral part of the event and occupied a position of influence over the pledges. View "Bogenberger v. Pi Kappa Alpha Corp., Inc." on Justia Law