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Crime & Courts

Wrongful death suit may expand

DeKALB – More students could be named in the wrongful death lawsuit filed by the parents of David Bogenberger, the 19-year-old fraternity pledge who died after a night of heavy drinking in November.

Bogenberger family attorney Peter Coladarci was granted an emergency request Tuesday by a Cook County judge to quickly receive police reports, photographs and other evidence that would provide the names of all those who attended the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity party Nov. 1 near the Northern Illinois University campus in DeKalb.

Coladarci said it was imperative to identify all those potentially responsible quickly because many students could leave the area after school ends in May. The lawsuit names 22 fraternity members, but Coladarci said more could be responsible as there were more than 40 people at the party and more than 30 face discipline from NIU.

“It would make it easier for everybody,” Coladarci said of adding more people to the lawsuit before graduation. “It’s very possible more than 22 people were culpable for this.”

Bogenberger was found dead at the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity house Nov. 2 after an unsanctioned “parents night” party hosted for him and 18 other fraternity pledges. Sorority members who acted as “moms” at the party are among those who could be added to the lawsuit.

According to the lawsuit filed Thursday in Cook County, fraternity members put Bogenberger on a couch or bed in the house after he passed out from drinking rather than seeking medical attention.

Several other pledges told authorities that they got sick or passed out because of heavy drinking.

The wrongful death lawsuit is seeking more than $100,000 in damages from the national fraternity, the fraternity’s Eta Nu chapter at NIU, the chapter officers, the event organizers and people who participated in the party.

The national fraternity deflected responsibility in a written statement released late Monday, stating it has strict policies against hazing and alcohol abuse.

“The international fraternity does not manage or control the day-to-day activities of the affiliated chapters nor their adult members,” said Justin Buck, executive vice president.

Coladarci remained confident the national fraternity failed in its responsibility.

“I know for a fact they’ve had other incidents like this,” he said. “If anybody should know how to effectively police events like this it would be an international fraternity that’s been around for decades.”

A status hearing on the case is scheduled for March 13 in Cook County.

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