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George Desdunes' Death: Cornell Frat Sued for $25M

By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on June 29, 2011 6:42 AM

George Desdunes was a Cornell University student until tragedy struck. Now, his mother is suing the national Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity for George Desdunes' death, allegedly the result of a hazing ritual gone awry.

The wrongful death suit was filed by Desdunes' mother. She is seeking $25 million from the fraternity, reports The Daily Mail.

Desdunes, 19, was "kidnapped" by fellow pledges during the hazing ritual. Fraternity members had then tied him up and quizzed him on the fraternity, forcing him to drink alcohol until he was unconscious.

Then, Desdunes was transported back to the fraternity house where he remained bound. He was left on the couch. He was found the next day by a university employee and was taken the hospital where he was pronounced dead. His blood alcohol level was five times the legal limit, reports The Daily Mail.

Some of the fraternity members are also accused of trying to cover up the evidence of the hazing ritual by removing some of the ties that bound Desdune's hands and feet, reports The Daily Mail.

Sigma Alpha Epsilon was supposed to be monitoring the Cornell chapter after Cornell officials discovered a manual that allegedly required pledges to buy illegal drugs, perform sex acts and clean vomit out of cars.

Wrongful death suits arise when death is caused by some sort of negligent or wrongful act, or an act of omission. Desdunes' mother will need to prove that the national fraternity was negligent in its monitoring of the Cornell chapter. She may have a relatively strong case, given the facts - the national chapter had been informed that the Cornell chapter had violated certain rules, and they had said they would monitor the chapter. The question is, did they monitor the chapter, and was their monitoring enough to relieve them of liability?

George Desdunes' death has also spurred the university to de-recognize the fraternity, reports The New York Times. Though for George Desdunes, Cornell's actions - and the fraternity's actions - have come too late.

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