University student’s parents sue university after son died after hazing incident

The parents of Bowling Green State University student Stone Foltz have filed a lawsuit against the university after a hazing incident in Ohio last year resulted in the death of their son from alcohol poisoning.

In the lawsuit, Cory and Shari Foltz alleged that their 20-year-old son was subjected to horrific hazing by the Pi Kappa Alpha International Fraternity, known as PIKE, during his sophomore year of college, when he was a pledge.

PHOTO: Cory and Shari Foltz, parents of Stone Foltz, a college student who died after an alleged hazing incident, watch as Wood County District Attorney Paul Dobson answers questions from the media in Bowling Green, Ohio, April 29, 2021.

Cory and Shari Foltz, the parents of Stone Foltz, a Bowling Green State University student who died after an alleged hazing incident, watch as Wood County District Attorney Paul Dobson answers questions from the media in Bowling Green, Ohio, April 29, 2021. Three former members of the fraternity were sentenced to prison terms on Thursday, June 16, 2022 for their role in the hazing of a Bowling Green State University student while two others were placed under house arrest.

Jd Pooley/AP

Bowling Green State permanently expelled the fraternity last year, saying it will never be recognized by the university again because of hazing, which the university said in a statement is “absolutely unbearable.” A university investigation found the “fraternity reckless in disregard for the health and safety” of the community, the statement said.

The lawsuit alleges that Foltz and other pledges were taken to the basement of a Bowling Green home and forced to drink a full gallon of bourbon during a hazing ritual.

“We promised Stone that we would end hazing on college campuses for good. By filing a complaint against Bowling Green State University, we are doing what it takes to hold those in power accountable for their deplorable inaction to keep students safe and recklessly for illegal activity,” Shari and Cory Foltz said in a statement to ABC News.

According to the lawsuit, Foltz would have to drink the bottle and have members of the frat take care of him.

As a result of the forced binge drinking, Foltz spent nearly three days in a coma and died of alcohol poisoning on March 7, 2021, the lawsuit alleged.

Foltz’s parents allege the university is responsible for their son’s death after turning a blind eye to hazing within PIKE for years, according to the lawsuit.

“Despite being fully aware of the hazing activities that have been going on at Bowling Green for decades, the university enthusiastically endorses Greek living to parents and students. To be clear, any perceived benefit students gain from joining a Greek organization is fully and completely offset by the risk of injury or death from outdated and deadly initiation rituals,” Foltz’s parents argue in the lawsuit.

PHOTO: An alleged alcohol hazing at an off-campus Pi Kappa Alpha event resulted in a student being hospitalized.  on March 4, 2020 at Bowling Green University in Bowling Green, Ohio.

An alleged alcohol hazing activity at an off-campus Pi Kappa Alpha event resulted in the hospitalization of a student. on March 4, 2020 at Bowling Green University in Bowling Green, Ohio.

Jack Bassett/WTVG

The Foltzs claimed that PIKE had a history of hazing, which their son was unaware of when he became a pledge, and that the university was not aware of this ritual until 2019, but did nothing about it, the lawsuit said.

“Without immediate change, students across the country will continue to experience humiliation, injury and death from hazing. We demand more education for students, transparency for parents, zero-tolerance policies for Greek organizations and immediate action from university leaders who have full control over what happens on their campuses said the Foltzs.

The lawsuit alleges Stone Foltz would not have died without the college’s recklessness, lax policies, lax enforcement of those policies, promotion of PIKE’s chapter, perfunctory investigations, and deliberate inaction on repeated warnings.

The university opposed these claims and called the lawsuit unfounded.

“Stone Foltz’s death was a tragedy, and what his family endured is unimaginable. However, this lawsuit is futile and undermines our ongoing efforts to eradicate hazing. We are determined in our legal position and if by the state supported university, we will vigorously defend our community against this action,” Alex Solis, deputy chief of staff and spokesperson for Bowling Green, said in a statement.

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