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Bogenberger family to appeal lawsuit dismissal

DeKALB – The parents of a Northern Illinois University freshman who died in a fraternity house in 2012 plan to appeal a Cook County judge’s dismissal of their lawsuit against the people at the party and the fraternity.

Peter Coladarci, who represents David Bogenberger’s family, said they disagreed with Judge Kathy Flanagan’s decision Thursday to dismiss the suit against 22 men, 16 women, the landlord for the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity house, the NIU chapter and the national fraternity organization.

“I’m sure we’re going to end up in the supreme court,” Coladarci said. “It could very well be another two years.”

Bogenberger, a 19-year-old Palatine High School graduate and fraternity pledge, had a blood-alcohol content of 0.351 percent when he died at the “Pikes” fraternity house in November 2012. Bogenberger and 18 other pledges attended the unsanctioned party, at which fraternity members and other guests ordered pledges to drink vodka, authorities have said. The pledges drank alcohol for about two hours while playing a game in which they were assigned “moms” and “dads” whose identities they were supposed to guess, authorities have said.

Five fraternity leaders face felony hazing charges, and 17 other fraternity members were charged with misdemeanor hazing in DeKalb County court. The five felony cases were continued Dec. 3 until Feb. 23, when prosecutors hope all 22 defendants will appear before DeKalb County Presiding Judge Robbin Stuckert, attorneys said.

In the civil case filed in Cook County, Coladarci argued the
defendants should be liable for Bogenberger’s death. However, Coladarci said the court held there is no civil remedy for alcohol-related deaths or injuries outside of the Dram Shop Act, which is used against bars.

“There is a broad public policy discussion that hazing is a scourge on the face of fraternities,” Coladarci said. “Without a civil remedy, without notions of direct accountability, these instances will continue.”

For his part, Mike Borders, who represents former fraternity president Alex M. Jandick, 23, of Naperville, said the ruling is consistent with Illinois law that social host liability doesn’t exist.

“There is no civil cause of action in this case,” Borders said. “As tragic as the case may be ... if you go to a party and drink too much, you can’t sue everyone at the party.”

Coladarci said he doesn’t expect the civil case ruling will have any negative impact on the outcome of the criminal case.

“If they think that should mitigate their sentences,” Coladarci said. “They are mistaken.”

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