Trial court ruling reversed in the tragic death of ULL Student
LAKE CHARLES, LA – In November of 2016, a student was killed by a fraternity pledge, as a result of fraternity hazing activities.
Rustam Nizamutdinova, who was from Uzbekistan, was obtaining his master’s degree in engineering at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
But on Nov. 6, 2016, he was struck and killed by a vehicle driven by a Kappa Sigma pledge who fell asleep at the wheel .
The pledge fell asleep at the wheel after being subjected to forced sleep-deprivation and other fraternity hazing activities during homecoming weekend.
The fraternity and its members hazed pledges by, among other things, severely depriving them of sleep for 72 hours, during which time they served as designated drivers for drunk fraternity members, etc.
One of the pledges got into his truck to drive back to campus, fell asleep at the wheel, left the roadway, and killed Rustam.
Rustam was an only child, and his mother survives him (she lives in Uzbekistan).
In trial court, the individual fraternity members and officers claimed that they, as individuals, had essentially no duty to refrain from hazing pledges, and owed no duties of care to Rustam. The trial judge granted their motions to dismiss, leaving only the national fraternity as a defendant.
Today, October 3, the Chief Judge of the Louisiana Court of Appeal Third Circuit reversed the trial court.
The opinion details how fraternity members “have duties to refrain from hazing, and duties to our client!”
“This appellate decision is solid legal authority for preventing these types of legal antics by fraternity officers and brothers in the future, certainly in Louisiana and, likely, elsewhere.”
Toxicology reports showed no sign of chemical impairment on Gallagher’s part, the police report said. And though Gallagher told police after the crash that he had been awake for 36 hours, the lawsuit claims he had been deprived of sleep for as many as 72 hours.
The district attorney did not charge him, citing that there was no evidence that Gallagher had committed a crime.