Lawsuit against fraternity in NIU death dismissed

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CHICAGO (AP) — A judge has thrown out a lawsuit filed against a fraternity by the family of a Northern Illinois University student who died after a night of heavy drinking.

David Bogenberger's family sued after the 19-year-old was found dead at Pi Kappa Alpha, the fraternity he was pledging, in November 2012.

Authorities say Bogenberger and other pledges had attended an event there the night before, and that pledges drank vodka and other liquor. Several pledges told police they got sick or passed out because of the drinking.

According to the lawsuit, a fraternity member moved Bogenberger to a bedroom after he became unconscious, rather than seeking medical attention.

Toxicology results later showed Bogenberger's blood alcohol content was about five times the legal limit for driving.

In a wrongful death lawsuit filed last year, Bogenberger's family argued that fraternity members, the national fraternity, several sorority members who were present and the fraternity's landlord should be held liable for his death. The lawsuit filed in Cook County sought damages of more than $100,000.

But in a ruling Thursday, Cook County Judge Kathy Flanagan said the family's lawyer failed to prove the fraternity violated Illinois' anti-hazing law by requiring Bogenberger to consume alcohol in order to join. Instead, she noted, the lawsuit stated only that Bogenberger believed the drinking was a requirement of membership.

Flanagan also said the fraternity members couldn't be held responsible for not seeking medical attention after Bogenberger passed out.

Neither the Bogenberger family nor their lawyer could be reached for comment Friday. The national fraternity, which has said it did not sanction the November 2012 event, did not immediately respond to a phone message.

Nearly two dozen fraternity members were charged with hazing-related counts shortly after Bogenberger's death — five with felony counts and the others with misdemeanors. The criminal cases are pending.

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