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Thursday, September 30, 2010

College Sued for Alcohol Poisoning

College drinking and hazing has made the news again after an 18-year-old freshman lost his life from alcohol poisoning. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), four out of five of college students consume alcohol, and 60 percent of them are under the age of 20; around 150,000 college students are diagnosed with some kind or the other alcoholism related health problem every year. There are a number of parents who feel that colleges across the country are not doing their part, unfortunately it is too late for some parents who lose their children before they even have a chance to make a life for themselves. Johnny Smith's parents of Tucson, Arizona, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Wabash College in Indiana, after their son was found dead at the Delta Tau Delta house back in October of 2008.

Binge drinking occurs most with college kids who are usually peer pressured into consuming unbelievable amounts of alcohol in a short period of time. The body can only handle so much alcohol before it simply cannot filter the poison out fast enough which is when the body becomes toxic. Johnny Smith has a blood alcohol level of .40 which is in the fatal range; according to the University of Texas if one's blood alcohol content (BAC) is .40-.50 percent, "you are probably in a coma. The nerve centers controlling your heartbeat and respiration are slowing down, and it's a miracle if you survive".

According to the AP, "the lawsuit claims the fraternity provided beer and alcohol to Smith and other minors during a Saturday night party on homecoming weekend and required Smith to drink shots of hard alcohol with older fraternity members. The members didn't then seek medical care for him after he suffered facial injuries in falling down a stairwell and then had to be carried to an upstairs room to sleep". Wabash College issued a statement saying "we believe in the strength of our Gentlemen's Rule - that a student is expected to conduct himself as a gentleman and a responsible citizen at all times - and we remain steadfast in our belief in personal responsibility". It is almost hard to believe that they expect an 18-year old to conduct himself as a gentleman in front of much older fraternity brothers who would hardly accept the answer "No" from Johnny.

"For 18 year olds away from home for the first time, susceptible not only to peer pressure but also hazing from older fraternity brothers, the Gentlemen's Rule is not a safeguard at all", said Stephen Wagner, an attorney for Stacy and Robert Smith.

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