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Danny Santulli tragedy and lawsuit

Danny Santulli, Fiji pledge on life supportCOLUMBIA, Mo. — The parents of a Minnesota man allege in a lawsuit that he has been unresponsive and requires constant medical care since being forced to drink a bottle of vodka at a fraternity at the University of Missouri.
Daniel Santulli, 19, of Eden Prairie, Minnesota, was found in cardiac arrest inside a car at University Hospital on Oct. 20, according to the lawsuit. His blood alcohol content was 0.486%, more than six times the legal limit for driving, the Columbia Missourian reported.
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The lawsuit contends Santulli and the rest of his pledge class at Phi Gamma Delta were each forced to drink a bottle of hard liquor, given to them by their “pledge fathers.”
Santulli remains “unresponsive, unaware of his surroundings, unable to communicate and (with) a significant injury to his brain,” according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit names the national Phi Gamma Delta organization and individual members of the Missouri chapter.
The national fraternity and university both suspended the Missouri chapter following Santulli’s hospitalization.
Ron Caudill, the fraternity’s national executive director, said in a statement that the fraternity is reviewing the lawsuit.
“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,” he said.
Attorney David Bianchi, the family’s attorney who specializes in hazing litigation, said Santulli’s injury was not an isolated event.
“These are part of a pattern of unsafe and dangerous behavior that represents the traditions of the fraternity,” he said.
Since 2017, Phi Gamma Delta, also known as Fiji, has six documented violations of alcohol distribution policies and two hazing violations at Missouri, according to university records.

 

By Hank Nuwer

Journalist Hank Nuwer is the Alaska author of Hazing: Destroying Young Lives; Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing, High School Hazing, Wrongs of Passage and The Hazing Reader. He has written articles or columns on hazing for the Sunday Times of India, Toronto Globe & Mail, Harper's Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, The Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times Sunday Magazine. His current book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press. He is married to Malgorzata Wroblewska Nuwer of Warsaw, Poland and Fairbanks, Alaska. Nuwer is a former columnist for the Greenville (Ohio)Early Bird and former managing editor of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner in Alaska.
Nuwer was named the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists columnist of the year in 2021 for his “After Darke” column in the Early Bird. He also won third place for the column in 2022 from the Indiana chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. He and his wife Gosia, recently of Union City, Ind., have owned 20 acres in Alaska for many years. “The move is a sort-of coming home for us,” said Nuwer. As a journalist, he’s written about the Alaskan Iditarod sled-dog race and other Alaska topics. Read his musings in his blog at Real Alaska Daily--http://realalaskadaily.com and in his weekly column "Far from Randolph" in the Winchester Star-Gazette of Randolph County, Indiana.

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