A jury has awarded a $6.1 million prize to the family of an 18-year-old Louisiana State University student.
A ruling issued last week brought to an end a year-long civil trial over the death of Max Gruber in 2017. Almost all of them have reached settlements with their families, including a former Fraternity member whom the jury determined was largely responsible for Gruber’s death.
But the verdict emphasized that jurors could impose serious consequences on students involved in Hayes, his parents said.
“The verdict sends a message about how seriously jurors take hate,” Stephen and Ray Ann Gruber said in a statement to BuzzFeed News through their attorneys. It was preventable in a sense. The jury’s award reflects how much damage his death has done to our family. One important step. “
In September 2017, Gruber, an 18-year-old Louisiana State University freshman, died of acute alcohol poisoning. Gruber and other pledgers reportedly had to chug alcohol when he answered a trivia question incorrectly. He was rushed from his home in Phi Delta Theta to the hospital after members of his fraternity found him lying face down on a couch, with a blood alcohol level of 0.495, above the legal driving limit. 6 times more than him.
According to court documents last week, Gruber’s family was awarded $100,000 for the pain and suffering he may have experienced from the incident to his death. He was awarded $6 million for his suffering.
In 2018, a Baton Rouge grand jury indicted four men in Gruber’s death. Matthew Naquin was charged with manslaughter and later convicted. Sean-Paul Gott and Ryan Isto claimed they did not contest the misdemeanor charge of harassment, the same charges he later dropped against Patrick Forde. A jury last week ruled that Gruver’s death was responsible for 80% of him to Naquin, 2% to another man, and 0% to Gruver himself.
“I am grateful that the jury understood that Max and his sworn brothers had no real choice and no fault in the hell they had to endure,” he said. “And, importantly, through its verdict, the jury overturned the notion that being a moyamoya bystander absolved the fraternity members of liability. Step up, make a difference, call 911, save lives.”
The family’s attorney, Don Cazayoux, told the Associated Press that the ruling will boost the family’s anti-haze message.
“The first message is don’t do it because you could hurt someone or kill someone,” Cazayoux said. According to him, legal exposure is something parents should warn their kids about going to college.
Another attorney representing Gruber’s family, Jonathon Fazola, told the New York Times that the family was paid “significant sums” from other defendants like Louisiana State University and Phi Delta Theta. Louisiana State University and Phi Delta Theta did not immediately respond to BuzzFeed News’ requests for comment.
In 2018, Louisiana passed the Max Gruber Act.