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The Max Gruver Foundation Seeks to Bring Change to Hazing

On September 13, 2017, Max Gruver and his pledge brothers were called to the Phi Delta Theta fraternity house at LSU to participate in a hazing ritual. The pledges were quizzed on the fraternity and the Greek alphabet, pelted with hot sauce and mustard and forced to do “planks” and “wall sits.”[1] Wrong answers to the older fraternity brothers’ questions were met with the penalty of being forced to chug hard liquor. Max’s pledge brother could hear him messing up the Greek alphabet and a member of Phi Delta Theta making him drink repeatedly.

Sadly, Max would not survive the hazing by his fraternity. He passed away at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital with an astounding blood alcohol content of .495, more than six times the legal intoxication level for driving. An autopsy showed Max died of “acute alcohol intoxication with aspiration.” It became clear that the actions of Phi Delta Theta fraternity brothers contributed to Max’s passing. Ten of the fraternity members would later be arrested and charged criminally. One would be indicted by a grand jury for negligent homicide and three would be indicted for hazing.[2]

Max’s family has suffered an unexpected tragedy. However, they are seeking to produce positive changes from their loss, so that no other family must endure a similar experience. They created the Max Gruver Foundation to combat excessive alcohol consumption, bullying, and hazing in college.[3]  The Max Gruver Foundation hopes to strengthen the laws across the country pertaining to hazing, as well as implement regulations colleges should be enforcing.  

A primary goal of the foundation is to increase transparency, making fraternities and sororities disclose hazing incidents, excessive drinking, or penalties they’ve received. The hope is that these disclosures would permit parents and prospective members to make informed decisions while choosing a fraternity or sorority. If they see a long history of violations, they can choose to steer clear of that organization. The Max Gruver Foundation believes transparency and negative attention would cause Greek organizations to avoid engaging in bad behavior.

The Max Gruver Foundation also seeks to solve a critical dilemma often facing fraternity members. When illicit behavior results in a medical emergency, fear of getting in trouble produces a hesitance to get help. A delay in seeking medical attention could be the difference between life and death. Thus, the Foundation hopes to bridge the gap between serious legal consequences for wrongdoing and amnesty for doing the right thing by seeking help.

The advocacy of Max’s family has spurred the Louisiana legislature to take action. In May of 2018, Governor John Bel Edwards signed the Max Gruver Act and a set of anti-hazing bills into law.[4] This legislation has increased penalties and fines for individuals engaged in hazing, as well as created fines for the organizations themselves.

The criminal justice system is currently prosecuting the individuals responsible for Max’s death. Max’s family has also filed a suit against the university and Phi Delta Theta for turning a blind eye to violations and hazing incidents for years.[5]  Max’s family is hopeful these actions will result in significant changes to this culture and protect future college students. The Cazayoux Ewing Law Firm is proud to represent the Gruver family and seek justice for Max.

To carry forward Max Gruver’s legacy and promote positive changes to our laws, schools, and Greek organizations, please donate to the Max Gruver Foundation here.


[1] https://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/hazing-in-america/ten-arrested-lsu-phi-delta-theta-fraternity-hazing-death-n809806

[2] https://www.nola.com/crime/index.ssf/2018/03/4_indicted_in_lsu_hazing_death.html

[3] https://www.theadvocate.com/baton_rouge/news/education/article_0d3063f6-e74c-11e7-bf2e-8bb41204414b.html

[4] https://www.theadvocate.com/baton_rouge/news/politics/legislature/article_7648a0c0-64e1-11e8-8074-dff7f1422134.html

[5] https://www.theadvocate.com/baton_rouge/news/courts/article_d93cd6e4-a189-11e8-9e61-438d3a74eb1f.html

One killed, five injured from a wedding party when a tree fell

Sunday, December 11, a large eucalyptus tree fell on top of a wedding party at Penn Park in Whittier, killing one person and injuring at least five others.

According to the reports, the wedding ceremony has just ended and guests were taking photos with the newly married couple when a 100-foot tall eucalyptus tree fell. At least 20 people were trapped under the tree’s branches and had to be extricated by local paramedics using chainsaws.

One person was killed as a result of the incident. No identification has been released. Five people, including a child, sustained minor to moderate injuries. They were rushed to a local hospital for treatment.

A search dog was brought to the site to help look for any remaining possible victims trapped under the tree.

Investigators were also requested to the scene to determine what caused the tree to fall.

Man killed in New Orleans pedestrian collision

WDSU reported on January 5 that a 28-year-old man passed away after a hit-and-run collision in New Orleans occurred at around 3:30 a.m. on New Year’s Day. Reports showed that the victim was dragged by the vehicle from the French Quarter up to the Westbank. He was identified by the Orleans Parish Coroner’s Office as a 28-year-old man formerly from Omaha. He was waiting for an Uber ride near the French Quarter before the accident, a family of the victim told KETV NewsWatch 7.

The victim was struck by a black sedan on the corner of Decatur Street and Dumaine Street. Investigators revealed that his body was discovered by a motorist near Algers, which was approximately six miles from where the accident initially occurred.

The driver of the black sedan, which has four doors and tinted windows, is still at large. Police officials are doing everything they can to track down the driver in order to determine the cause of this horrible accident.

Missing Baton Rouge couple found dead at a truck stop

A couple from Baton Rouge was found strangled to death in the backseat of their pickup truck, which had been left at a rest stop in Hammond, Louisiana, on October 19 at around 11 p.m. The couple had previously been reported missing–police were sent to check their home about an hour before they were found–by their children, who were concerned after being unable to reach their parents by phone for some time.

The arrest warrant showed that the couple had been tied up and beaten in their home by the suspect, Ernesto Alonso, before he stole money from their safe and strangled them. He drove away in the couple’s pickup truck to dispose of their bodies.

Baton Rouge Police used a GPS system to track the missing pickup truck, which led to the discovery of the bodies. Reports said that a man was seen fleeing the scene. The 42-year-old suspect was found and arrested in Hollywood, Florida. He was reported to have worked for the couple as a handyman prior to the killing.

Alonso is facing four charges in Louisiana, where he will be extradited from Florida: two counts of first-degree murder and two more counts of second-degree kidnapping.

22-year-old motorcyclist killed after car fails to yield

Last September 24, Jacob Ward of Metairie passed away when his motorcycle hit a car after the car failed to yield on River Road in Old Jefferson. Louisiana State Police stated that the car’s driver, 23-year-old Blair Guidry, did not yield to the motorcycle at a stop sign while turning onto the road.

According to reports, Guidry stopped her car at the sign as she waited to turn onto River Road. While turning, she did not yield to Ward’s motorcycle, causing the crash. Ward was wearing a helmet when he hit the side of Guidry’s car, but he later died at the University Hospital in New Orleans.

A toxicology test is still pending for Ward. Guidry took a breath test and was cleared of intoxication.

The accident is still under investigation.

The death of a loved one is hard to accept, especially if it involves the negligence of someone else. Our team of wrongful death lawyers at Cazayoux Ewing Law Firm sends their sincerest condolences to Mr. Ward’s family and friends.

Father of seven dies after Baton Rouge shooting

Kendrick Ross, a 37-year-old resident of Baton Rouge, was found in his vehicle with a gunshot wound to his head last Saturday, September 19. He died at the hospital next morning.

According to Baton Rouge police Cpl. L’Jean McKneely, Ross was shot at around 5:45 p.m. at the 9400 block of Avis Avenue. The case is still under investigation and the motive and suspect remain unknown.

Ross’ widow, Kristin, said that she has no idea as to why her husband was shot dead. Kristin remembered the last time she talked to Ross. He said to her, “I’ll be home before it gets dark.” The widow also said that everything they did together revolved around their children. “Me and him had finally said we were gonna do something by ourselves, so we were gonna go on a cruise in three weeks,” she later said.

The personal injury lawyers at Cazayoux Ewing Law Firm send their deepest condolences to Kendrick Ross’ family and friends.

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