Appellate court reinstates lawsuit against NIU frat members

An Illinois appeals court on Monday reinstated a wrongful-death lawsuit against members of the Northern Illinois University chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha in the 2012 hazing-related death of Palatine High School graduate David Bogenberger.

Bogenberger, then a 19-year-old freshman, and other fraternity pledges attended a party in an off-campus fraternity house. As part of a hazing ritual, fraternity members pushed pledges to consume excessive amounts of alcohol in a short time. Bogenberger and other pledges were left intoxicated and unconscious in the house.

Bogenberger died with a blood alcohol level of .43, according to court documents. The legal threshold of intoxication is .08.

Bogenberger's family filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the NIU chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha, the fraternity's national organization, officers and members of the fraternity alleged to have been involved and the landlord of the house where the hazing occurred.

In December 2014, a Cook County trial court dismissed the family's suit. The family filed an appeal the next month.

In May 2015, 22 men from the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity were convicted of misdemeanors. Five former fraternity officers pleaded guilty to reckless conduct, and 17 former members of Pi Kappa Alpha admitted to misdemeanor hazing.

The lawsuit filed by the Bogenberger family argues the fraternity members are responsible for Bogenberger's death because they required him and other pledges to participate in the excessive drinking to gain membership.

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