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Settlement Reached In Suit Over Fraternity Hazing Death


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11/17/2008
Brent Adams
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A $4.2 million settlement was recently reached in a wrongful death suit filed by the family of a University of Texas student who died as the result of consuming a fatal amount of alcohol at a fraternity party in 2005.

 

The settlement was announced on July 15 by the attorneys representing the family of Phanta “Jack” Phoummarath, a native of Houston, Texas who was a freshman at UT at the time of his death. They say the family plans to use the money to create a video for the education of adults and teenagers on the dangers of binge drinking called “Enough is Enough.”

 

Phoummarath, who was 18-years-old at the time of his death, died as the result of acute alcohol poisoning and had a blood-alcohol level of 0.41 (the legal limit for someone who is 21 or older to drive is .08).

 

In September, three members of the fraternity Lambda Phi Epsilon entered a plea of no contest to a charge of misdemeanor hazing and were sentenced to two years of deferred adjudication, which is a form of probation.

 

Under an agreement reached with prosecutors, 24-year-old Benny Chan, the former president of the fraternity, 22-year-old Andrew Nguyen, the former pledge captain, and 23-year-old Kamal Pulukuri, the former “hellmaster,” will apologize to the family of Phoummarath.

 

Court documents described ritualistic hazing over a period of four months and revealed detailed accounts of pledges being required to exercise to the point of fainting, drink water until vomiting, and be struck by a wooden paddle.

 

On the night of Phoummarath’s death, one pledge, who was not identified, expressed concerns with the amount of alcohol they were expected to consume, but was told by fraternity brothers that they would take care of the pledges "by helping them vomit and giving them water," court documents say.

 

The lawsuit placed the blame for Phoummarath’s death on the fraternity and more than 40 current and former members.



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