Hypo on Homicide, Intentional Torts, and Negligence

By Sushil Narayanan

The ____fraternity was selecting its 1995-96 class of pledges.  Steve was 
the third generation of his family to pledge the fraternity and having 
heard all of his father and grandfaterh's stories, was really hoping to 
be accepted.  Over the past few years incidents on this and other State 
University campuses resulted in a ban on hazing University-wide as well 
as recent passage of an anti-hazing bill in the State legislature making 
it a felony to "knowingly or recklessly cause bodily injury to any 
candidate for a membership in an organization on any State university 
campus."  Despite these prohibitions, the fraternity had several tests of 
a candidate's loyalty and manhood.  No one had ever been hurt as a result 
of these rites, and no one discussesd them beyond the walls of the frat 
house, so the members weren't too concerned with the hazing ban.

The final test required taking a punch in the stomach from 8 of the 
brothers.  Everyone told Steve he was in after this and that it wasn't a 
big deal.  He would be sore for a few days but he shouldn't worry.  After 
the first shot, Steve was much less anxious but by the fourth he was 
starting to feel a little strange.  By the sixth shot he was still on his 
feet but was having a bit of trouble breathing.  The fraternity president 
noticed and took the last two brothers aside and told them to take it 
easy.  They agreed although they both thought Steve could take it.  After 
it was over, the frat had a big party and everyone congratulated Steve on 
being so tough.  Joe, who threw the fifth punch, said he really whaled on 
Steve and was surprised he was still standing afterwards.  Steve rapidly 
downed several drinks but stil feeling really bad, went upstairs to lie 
down.  About two hours later he was found passed out on the floor of one 
of the rooms.  They tried to wake him up but when he didn't come around, 
took him to the hospital.  Steve died several hours later due to 
extensive internal bleeding.  

Steve's parents were horrified when the story came out and pushed the DA 
to file criminal charges against the frat members.  The DA is under 
significant pressure to come down hard on this behavior.  If you were the 
DA, would you file charges and what would they be?

Steve's parents are also planning to file a civil suit.  Do a Torts 
analysis on the same set of facts.