Andrew Coffey’s Parents File Lawsuit Against Fraternity

Courtesy: Tallahassee Democrat

It’s been only four months since Florida State University lost one of its own—junior and civil engineering major—20-year-old Andrew Coffey. On the night of Nov. 3rd, Coffey passed away due to alcohol poisoning after a night that was meant to be filled with fun. The off-campus party took place while Pi Kappa Phi was on a liquor ban—but was told the ban was lifted only for “Big Brother Night,” a tradition well known among the fraternity.

After drinking a bottle of high-proof bourbon given to him by his ‘Big’, Coffey lay unconscious on the couch during the party as fraternity members kept drinking and playing pool around him. This scene led Coffey's mother to say her son "died alone in a room full of people."

The death of the Pi Kappa Phi pledge was an unfortunate wakeup call to the Florida State University and universities across the country, an incident that brought the University to halt all Greek life—a famous culture celebrated by most fraternities and sororities. President Thrasher announced the suspension of all Greek life in hopes of calling for “a new normal for Greek Life at the university.” 

Courtesy: NBC News

On Tuesday in Leon County, the parents of the late fraternity pledge Andrew Coffey from Pompano Beach, filed a lawsuit against the national offices of Pi Kappa Phi, along with the nine men charged with their son’s hazing death. The 15-count lawsuit convicts the unchecked ‘frat’ culture and the actions of its members including heavy drinking, paddling, embarrassment and events like “Big Brother Night,” the party at which Coffey died.

According to the Tallahassee Democrat, “The universities can only do so much, but when the national fraternities know these dangerous, illegal traditions are taking place and they turn a blind eye, they’re as guilty as anybody else because they are expecting the tradition to continue,” said David Bianchi, the Miami attorney representing Coffey’s parents, “I’m going to attack this problem from the top down and the bottom up.”

According to the Sun Sentinel, the lawsuit states, “No one called 911 to ask for advice or to summon the paramedics, no one called the police to ask for help and no one attempted to take him to the hospital. Instead, everyone drifted away, and Andrew was eventually left all alone in a dark room surrounded by empty liquor and beer bottles, empty cups and vomit.”

The 41-page lawsuit outed Pi Kappa Phi’s adviser D. Craig Filar, along with Richard Gulie and Thomas Rohrlack, the two men who had rented the house on Buena Vista Drive, where Coffey’s tragic death happened.

 The lawsuit contends that Filar did not attend the house party, and because of that, did not do his duty to protect its members as the fraternity’s advisor. Knowing that there would be minors under the 21-year-old drinking age attending, Gulie and Rohrlack gave permission to host the party.

The Sun Sentinel reached out to the spokesman for the national office of the fraternity, Todd Shelton, but declined to comment on the “pending litigation.”