Archive for Thursday, March 4, 1999


March 4, 1999


A 1997 hazing incident at a Kansas University fraternity leads to a lawsuit alleging negligence.

Hours before pledge Matthew Prime fell into an alcohol-induced coma, members of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity at Kansas University told him he was in for the time of his life, a lawsuit filed recently in Douglas County District Court alleges.

Two years after the Feb. 26, 1997, incident, Prime is suing the fraternity, some of its members, KU, the Mount Oread House Corporation and the Kansas Board of Regents for more than $75,000.

Fraternity officials said Wednesday that they had not seen the lawsuit and declined to comment.

The university investigated the incident and placed the fraternity on a two-year suspension in May 1997.

Prime was comatose for 12 hours with a blood-alcohol limit of .375, well above the legal limit of 0.08. The lawsuit described it as "a near-fatal level."

The incident occurred during the fraternity's so-called "Pledge Dad Night," a ritual in the membership process of the fraternity that included "excessive consumption of beer and hard liquor, wrestling matches, rampaging on a public street and serenading of a neighboring sorority house," the lawsuit says.

"Mr. Prime stated (to) fraternity members that he did not want to drink very much," the lawsuit alleges. "Fraternity members encouraged and coerced Mr. Prime to drink by saying it would be the time of his life and that he would always remember this night. Excessive consumption of beer and hard liquor was a de facto requirement of membership."

Fraternity members led pledges through a series of six to eight bedrooms, where they encouraged prospective members to drink shots of liquor, the lawsuit says.

"Mr. Prime consumed three or four shots of beer or hard liquor in each room," the lawsuit says. "As Mr. Prime proceeded through the series of rooms, the order of the pledges became mixed up. As a result, Mr. Prime was made to go through several rooms twice."

After completing the procession of rooms, the "pledge dads" handed each of the pledges a full bottle of Mad Dog, a grape-flavored liquor, to consume during the rest of the night.

Prime fell down on Stewart Avenue and passed out in the living room of the fraternity house. About 1 a.m., fraternity members took Prime to the emergency room at Lawrence Memorial Hospital.

Prime is suing for negligence.

Efforts to reach Prime, who is still enrolled at KU, and his attorney Wednesday were unsuccessful.

-- Deb Gruver's phone message number is 832-7165. Her e-mail address is

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