We've heard of drunken bros doing stupid, harmful stuff to each other, but the allegations in Brenton Griffin's lawsuit against the University of Houston's Sigma Phi Epsilon are a doozy: the 23-year-old says that he lost an eye at an SPE party in 2013, after he passed out and one of the fraternity members tried to kick a beer can off his head. And missed. While wearing boots.
Specifically, the lawsuit, filed last week and first reported by the Houston Chronicle , states that "fraternity members and other party guests were present" in a party at the fraternity's house when an SPE member propped an unconscious Griffin into an upright position, placed an aluminum beer can on top of his head, and then kicked Griffin in the right eye while attempting to kick the can. The eye had to be surgically removed, according to the suit, which names the fraternity and seven members as defendants. (Some of those members were also officers).
The part that threw us for a loop is the allegation that the Sigma Phi Epsilon organization itself is responsible because the frat "knew or should have known that...alcohol would be served at the party, that persons would become intoxicated at the party, and that said persons may take negligent actions which would cause injury to others."
Well, duh. Isn't that why, in addition to vaguely homoerotic bonding rituals, dudes go to frat parties? Was Griffin expecting an alcohol-free Bible study, followed by a quiet game of pinochle?
The suit also alleges that the members/officers "failed to keep a proper lookout for [Griffin's] safety," "knew or should have known that persons would be consuming alcohol," and "knew or should have known that proper safety policies did not exist within Sigma Phi Epsilon...for the protection of guests at parties."
If Griffin really did lose an eye in that fashion, we feel terrible for him. But these characterizations of a fraternity, and its frat-bros, as paragons of safety and prudence seem kind of silly. We're curious to see how this one turns out.
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