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Parents of alleged hazing victim sue Phi Gamma Delta fraternity

When University Hospital staff approached a car in the early morning hours of Oct. 20, they found 18-year-old Daniel Santulli inside.

He was pale, his lips were blue. He wasn’t breathing. His heart had stopped.

Santulli’s blood-alcohol content at that time was an astonishing 0.486, more than six times the legal limit to drive. Hospital staff resuscitated Santulli with CPR but placed him on a ventilator.

That late-night arrival in a fraternity brother’s car was the aftermath of a “pledge father reveal” party at the Phi Gamma Delta house, where Santulli was a pledge.

He wouldn’t recover. According to a lawsuit filed by Santulli’s parents in Boone County Circuit Court, he remains “unresponsive, unaware of his surroundings, unable to communicate and (with) a significant injury to his brain” more than 100 days after the incident.

The family, from Eden Prairie, Minn., is represented by David Bianchi, an attorney who specializes in hazing litigation. Bianchi called the incident “the worst injury of any fraternity pledge” he’s seen in 30 years of work in the field.

The national Phi Gamma Delta organization, commonly known as Fiji, is a defendant in the suit, as is what appears to be the entire MU chapter’s executive board, which includes current students. The national fraternity and university both suspended the local chapter almost immediately following the October incident.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with Danny and the Santulli family during this difficult time," wrote Ron Caudill, the fraternity's national executive director, in a statement. "We have received the civil complaint and are reviewing it … We expect all chapters and members to follow the law and abide by the fraternity’s policies, which prohibit hazing and the provision of alcohol to minors."

To read more of this story visit The Columbia Missourian.

The Columbia Missourian is a community news organization managed by professional editors and staffed by Missouri School of Journalism students who do the reporting, design, copy editing, information graphics, photography and multimedia.