Brandon Zingale, former University of Missouri-Columbia freshman who was hospitalized in September 2016 due to alcohol poisoning, has sued the university’s Kappa Alpha fraternity, including three individual members, for hazing.
Zingale, who was an 18-year-old pledge at Kappa Alpha at the time of the incident, claims he was “coerced by active members ofo drink so much vodka that he nearly died” at the fraternity house in Columbia the night of September 27, 2016.
According to the lawsuit filed Thursday in Boone County Circuit Court, after Zingale passed out, members of the fraternity left him alone, putting him to bed and attaching a backpack in an effort to keep him from rolling over and suffocating. The following morning when paramedics arrived, Zingale was found unconscious, foaming at the mouth.
Zingale’s BAC, almost 10 hours after he stopped drinking, was 0.41 percent, which is over five times the legal limit for driving in Missouri. According to reports, Zingale experienced ‘acute respiratory failure, nerve compression, and metabolic dysfunction.’
Defendants in the suit include the fraternity’s national organization Kappa Alpha Order and its Alpha Kappa chapter at Mizzou. The fraternity knew of the risk of hazing traditions involving heavy drinking and did not do enough to prevent its members’ dangerous activities, according to the suit.
Jacob Lee, president of the fraternity chapter at the time, Max McGrath and Ryan Heuermann, fraternity members, are also named in the suit, which alleges that the three students participated in the hazing of Zingale and did not get him emergency medical care fast enough.
One month after the incident, the University of Missouri kicked the Kappa Alpha fraternity off campus for five years. At the time, the fraternity released a statement that read “misuse of alcohol, and hazing, are each contrary to our values and are strictly and expressly prohibited by Kappa Alpha Order.”
The Kappa Alpha national organization conducted their own investigation, concluding that the incident involving Zingale did not constitute hazing.
In a statement, Zingale’s parents said: “We are hopeful that Brandon’s lawsuit will bring attention to the danger of alcohol hazing at fraternities and universities across the country.”