Over five years after a deadly Louisiana State University fraternity hazing incident, a federal jury awards the parents of then 18-year-old Maxwell Gruver $6.1 million.1 Gruver Family Attorney Don Cazayoux says, “[T]he verdict sends a strong message to hazers and would-be hazers.”1
Max Gruver’s 2017 death was the result of a hazing ritual in which older fraternity brothers directed a series of Greek life-related questions at freshmen “pledges” including Max, punishing wrong answers with forced consumption of 190-proof liquor. Shortly after the hazing event, Max became unconscious and remained on a couch in the fraternity house for ten hours before being brought to the hospital. Upon arrival at the hospital, Max’s blood alcohol concentration was still .495 – over ten hours after the hazing had ended.1 The cause of Max’s death was officially deemed acute alcohol intoxication with aspiration.
Last week’s verdict against defendant Ryan Isto, a fraternity brother, marked the final case following settlements against other defendants, including Phi Delta Theta fraternity and LSU since late 2017.2 Max’s parents, Stephen and Rae Ann Gruver, have directed a portion of all settlement funds toward the Max Gruver Foundation, the pair’s nonprofit entity that spreads awareness and shapes public policy to prevent the dangers of hazing.3
The Gruver family’s hope is that the highly publicized verdict will prompt strengthening anti-hazing laws and will send a powerful message to young people who may be on the brink of life-altering decisions. The attorneys at Cazayoux Ewing Law Firm agree the latest verdict will be monumental in supporting their foundation’s mission.
“This is going to give the Gruvers another tool in their arsenal during their campaign to stop hazing,” explained Cazayoux.1
When asked about what message this sends to current and future fraternity and sorority members, Cazayoux put it plainly: “The first message is, don’t do it [hazing] because you could hurt someone, you could kill someone.”2
In 2018, thanks to the advocacy efforts of the Gruver family, Louisiana Legislature passed the Max Gruver Act, officially making hazing a felony.4