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Gordie Bailey suit goes ahead by court permission

Abstract from Denver Post:

Judge allows hazing death trial to proceed

BOULDER – A March 10, 2008 date has been set for the trial of the civil lawsuit brought by Leslie Lanahan, the mother of Gordie Bailey.

Bailey died from acute alcohol poisoning after a fraternity initiation in September 2004. Lanahan filed the suit last year against Chi Psi Fraternity and seven members of the fraternity.

Jim Goldfarb, the attorney for the fraternity, declined comment Monday as did several lawyers representing the fraternity brothers. Lanahan claims the fraternity exhibited negligence and “reckless misconduct.” The fraternity brothers are also accused of negligence.

The lawsuit alleges that Gordie and his fellow Chi Psi pledges were blindfolded and driven to a remote mountain area where they were hazed and forced to drink “dangerous quantities of alcohol.”

After Gordie passed out, the lawsuit alleges that some of the fraternity brothers drew vulgar pictures and messages on Gordie’s body.

The suit also claims it was 10 hours after Gordie was believed to be in need of medical help that emergency personnel were called to the fraternity house.

Bailey was pronounced dead eight minutes after the call was made, the lawsuit said. One fraternity brother claimed that Colorado’s Dram Shop Law prevented Lanahan from filing suit.

The law says that “no social host who furnishes any alcohol beverage is civilly liable to any injured individual or his or her estate…due to the consumption of alcohol.”

But Boulder District Judge Carol Glowinsky has ruled that the lawsuit can proceed because the Dram Shop Law doesn’t apply to many of Lanahan’s allegations.

“The allegations here are that the deceased (Bailey) was blindfolded, taken into the woods, illegally hazed, and abandoned to die,” wrote the judge. “There is nothing in the allegations relating to entertainment, pleasant companionship, or hospitality. Therefore, assuming the allegations in the complaint to be true, the defendant was not a social host.”

Staff writer Howard Pankratz can be reached at 303-954-1939 or

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. In April of 2024, the Alaska Press Club awarded him first place in the Best Columnist division and Best Humorist, second place.

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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