What are the Rights of Pledge if He or She is Hazed or Harmed by a Florida Fraternity, Sorority, Organization, or Club?

Hazing-Fraternity-Sorority-150x150In the State of Florida, it is a crime for a person to haze another person.  It is not a defense to the action if the hazing, abuse, or pressure is connected to admission, entry, or membership into an organization, club, fraternity, or sorority.  It should be noted that the crime of hazing is different from a prior and element standpoint than a civil case on behalf of a victim subjected to hazing acts like physical abuse or drinking games that lead to serious injury or even death of the victim, pledge, or applicant.  With respect to a civi case involving negligence or abusive conduct, there are four elements to establish:

Duty;
Breach of Duty;
Causation, and
Damages.

All four elements must be established in order to pursue and prevail in a case based on hazing acts of other persons who are members, brothers, sisters, or officers of the fraternity, sorority, organization, or club.  Each potential case or claim must be evaluated on its own facts and circumstances.  If a criminal statute is violated like the hazing statute, this can be evidence of negligence in the civil case and may be part of the jury instructions read to the jury of the civil case.  Florida is a comparative fault state.  In other words, even if the vicitm was partially at fault for his or her actions, a case or claim can still be brought for the injuries sustained by the victim.

Pursuant to Section 1006.63, Florida Statutes – Hazing Prohibited, hazing is defined as recklessly or intentionally endangering the mental health, physical health, or safety of a student for purposes of initiation or admission with any organization operating under the sanction of a post secondary institution.  The abuse includes but is not limited to pressuring a student to violate state or federal law, beating, whipping, forced physical consumption of food, liquor, drugs and other substances, and other acts. See Section 1006.63, Florida Statutes – Hazing Prohibited for the full statute.

It was recently reported that a 20 year student, Andrew Coffey, was found unresponsive at a home in Tallahasse, Florida. Tragically, Andrew Coffey died.  There is an investigation now in place as to the cause and circumstances of the death of Andrew Coffey who was a pledge of the Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity.   The criminal hazing statute may apply if the investigation determines that any members of the fraternity violated this statute and / or if the circumstances of the death have something to do with a fraternity related event, dare, or incident.

If a pledge suffers injuries or dies as a result of a hazing event, there may be a civil case to see compensation for the injuries suffered. If there is a wrongful death, the survivors are typically the parents of the student even if the student was over the age of 18.  For purposes of the wrongful death act, a minor child is defined as a child of a parent under the age of 25 years old.

Based in Jacksonville, Florida, David Wolf is a personal injury attorney who handles cases throughout the State of Florida.  He is the author of 11 books that focus on personal injury matters and has a keen interest in the health, safety, and legal rights of children.  David Wolf has over 27 years of experience and is AV Preeminent Rated by the Martindale Hubbell Legal Directory and is rated as 10.0 Superb by the AVVO Legal Directory.  David Wolf provides a Free Consultation on all personal injury cases he handles. He represented injury victims and their families on a contingency basis which means if there is no financial recovery – there are no fees or costs charged to the client.

In the State of Florida, it is a crime for a person to haze another person.  It is not a defense to the action if the hazing, abuse, or pressure is connected to admission, entry, or membership into an organization, club, fraternity, or sorority.  It should be noted that the crime of hazing is different from a prior and element standpoint than a civil case on behalf of a victim subjected to hazing acts like physical abuse or drinking games that lead to serious injury or even death of the victim, pledge, or applicant.  With respect to a civi case involving negligence or abusive conduct, there are four elements to establish:

Duty;
Breach of Duty;
Causation, and
Damages.

All four elements must be established in order to pursue and prevail in a case based on hazing acts of other persons who are members, brothers, sisters, or officers of the fraternity, sorority, organization, or club.  Each potential case or claim must be evaluated on its own facts and circumstances.  If a criminal statute is violated like the hazing statute, this can be evidence of negligence in the civil case and may be part of the jury instructions read to the jury of the civil case.  Florida is a comparative fault state.  In other words, even if the vicitm was partially at fault for his or her actions, a case or claim can still be brought for the injuries sustained by the victim.

Pursuant to Section 1006.63, Florida Statutes – Hazing Prohibited, hazing is defined as recklessly or intentionally endangering the mental health, physical health, or safety of a student for purposes of initiation or admission with any organization operating under the sanction of a post secondary institution.  The abuse includes but is not limited to pressuring a student to violate state or federal law, beating, whipping, forced physical consumption of food, liquor, drugs and other substances, and other acts.

It was recently reported that a 20 year student, Andrew Coffey, was found unresponsive at a home in Tallahasse, Florida.  Tragically, Andrew Coffey died.  There is an investigation now in place as to the cause and circumstances of the death of Andrew Coffey who was a pledge of the Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity.   The criminal hazing statute may apply if the investigation determines that any members of the fraternity violated this statute and / or if the circumstances of the death have something to do with a fraternity related event, dare, or incident.

If a pledge suffers injuries or dies as a result of a hazing event, there may be a civil case to see compensation for the injuries suffered. If there is a wrongful death, the survivors are typically the parents of the student even if the student was over the age of 18.  For purposes of the wrongful death act, a minor child is defined as a child of a parent under the age of 25 years old.

Based in Jacksonville, Florida, David Wolf is a personal injury attorney who handles cases throughout the State of Florida.  He is the author of 11 books that focus on personal injury matters and has a keen interest in the health, safety, and legal rights of children.  David Wolf has over 27 years of experience and is AV Preeminent Rated by the Martindale Hubbell Legal Directory and is rated as 10.0 Superb by the Avvo Legal Directory.  He is the author of 11 books including the book titled – When a Parent’s World Goes From Full to Empty – The Wrongful Death of a Child – What You Need to Know About the Florida Wrongful Death Act.  You can get this book for free at From Full to Empty.

David Wolf provides a Free Consultation on all personal injury cases he handles. He represented injury victims and their families on a contingency basis which means if there is no financial recovery – there are no fees or costs charged to the client.