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Fraternity Hazing "Victim" Assumed the Risk
Description Alabama high court held there was no negligence by a fraternity or its members for engaging in the physical hazing of a member, who stayed in the fraternity for more than a year, and did not take the opportunity to quit. By staying, the fraternity member assumed the risk of being hazed.
Topic Torts
Key Words Assault and Battery, Hazing, Assumption of the Risk, Negligence Per Se
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Jones, a freshman at Auburn University, pledged Kappa Alpha fraternity. As soon as he moved into the fraternity house, extensive hazing, including physical abuse, began. Jones stayed at KA for two years until he flunked out of school. Then he sued KA and some of its members for hazing and assault and battery. Trial court granted summary judgment to most defendants on most claims. Court of appeals reversed, holding that hazing, in violation of a statute against hazing, made the practice negligence per se. KA appealed.
Decision Reversed. "Assumption of the risk has two subjective elements: (1) the plaintiff's knowledge and appreciation of the risk; and (2) the plaintiff's voluntary exposure to that risk." Jones "voluntarily chose to continue his participation in the hazing activities" and lied to school officials and his parents about the hazing. His argument that "peer pressure created a coercive environment that prevented him from exercising free choice" is not convincing. A significant number of pledges quit the fraternity during hazing, but Jones chose to stay. Summary judgment with respect to Jones's negligence claims should be granted.
Citation Barran v. Kappa Alpha Order, Inc., 1998 WL 847077 (Slip Copy, Sup. Ct., Ala.)
730 So.2d 203 (Sup. Ct., Ala., 1998)

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