The parents of a Penn State fraternity pledge who died last year after a night of hazing and drinking reached a settlement with the frat and announced sweeping reforms Tuesday.
The settlement allows Jim and Evelyn Piazza to move forward with any claims against any other parties arising from their son Timothy Piazza’s death in February of 2017. It also includes a fraternity-conduct reform agreement “aimed at averting another preventable tragedy,” the family said.
On Feb. 4, 2017, Timothy Piazza, 19, of Lebanon, New Jersey, died of severe head and abdominal injuries after a bid acceptance ceremony at the Beta Theta Pi house. Authorities say he consumed a dangerous amount of alcohol. More than 20 members of the now-closed fraternity were criminally charged and three of the members have pleaded guilty so far.
The reform program detailed in the settlement includes the requirement of all chapter houses nationwide to be alcohol and substance-free by August of 2020. It also requires that the Piazzas be involved in any decision-making on the future use of the closed Beta Theta Pi chapter at Penn State.
The program also calls for better education and training at least once each semester on social event planning and bystander engagement as well as on the prevention of hazing, alcohol and substance abuse and sexual assault.
“The settlement represents a unique, cooperative agreement, and is an outgrowth of the determined dedication by Jim and Evelyn Piazza to the cause of preventing hazing injury and death in Greek life in the future,” the family’s attorney Tom Kline said. “By this settlement, the Piazzas and Beta help to establish a baseline for the new norm of fraternity pledging and fraternity life at universities and colleges in the United States.”
The settlement also includes a monetary payment, though Kline would not disclose the amount.