The Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity at Cornell University is being sued for $25 million by the mother of a student who was allegedly forced to drink so much alcohol that he died.
According to the lawsuit, the student, George Desdunes, a 19-year-old sophomore and SAE member, was kidnapped by student pledging his house, tied up and made to answer trivia questions about his fraternity. If he answered incorrectly, he was made to do exercises or consume various food and drinks that contained sugar, flavored syrups and vodka, according to ABC News.
Desdunes reportedly passed out, but rather than being taken to the hospital he was left, still tied up, on a couch in the house’s library. He was later pronounced dead from alcohol poisoning with a blood alcohol level was .409 — or five times the legal limit.
His mother, Marie Lourdes Andre, who is suing for wrongful death, says at least five other deaths have occurred at SAE chapters since 1997. (The fraternity has more than 240 chapters nationwide with some 300,000 initiated members.)
“With the death of my son, I find some comfort in knowing that this lawsuit may bring about changes in fraternities that will prevent other families from suffering as I have,” Andre said in a statement.
A spokesman for the fraternity, which following Desdunes’ death was barred from operating on Cornell’s campus for five years, told ABC: “There’s absolutely nothing this organization endorses or publishes that would be an endorsement for hazing. Our leadership won’t hesitate to take action against individuals who do not follow our regulations or who breech our risk management.”