Hazing News

New Twist on a lawsuit: Marcus Jones Kappa Alpha Psi case may involve members and a warehouse owner

 Other pleas
Civil suit filed in hazing case
By Angeline Taylor

Marcus Jones, once a pledge of the undergraduate chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity at Florida A&M University, has filed a civil lawsuit against the five fraternity members he accused of causing him bodily harm.

Michael Morton, Jason Harris, Brian Bowman, Marcus Hughes and Cory Gray were all named in Jones’ lawsuit, along with the Alpha Xi chapter and the regional and national offices of the fraternity. The lawsuit also lists the fictitious name John Doe to represent the owner of the warehouse where Jones was severely beaten, causing hemorrhaging and requiring surgery.

“When we get specific information, we can change those John Does to names,” said attorney Roosevelt Randolph of Knowles & Randolph, P.A.

Dawn Whitehurst, lead counsel for Jones’ civil lawsuit, said individuals like the owner of the warehouse “knew or should have known this type of activity” occurred at the warehouse. An amended copy of the suit was filed Wednesday.

According to the lawsuit, “For the good and safety of individuals on the property, John Doe(s) has assumed the duty of preventing serious bodily injury from occurring on the property.”

Whitehurst said Florida A&M University will not be a defendant in the lawsuit.

“FAMU has responded appropriately and swiftly once the incident was brought to their attention,” Whitehurst said. The chapter has been suspended from the campus for an extended period.

The personal injury lawsuit cites damages in excess of $15,000, not including interest and attorney’s fees.

“From the very beginning, it was really difficult for Marcus (Jones) to come forward,” Whitehurst said. “He’s not the type that likes the spotlight.”

Instead, Whitehurst said, Jones does not want what happened to him to happen to any other young person trying to join a fraternity. Jones’ lawsuit claims that the local, regional and national branches of the fraternity failed to monitor activities of their members to ensure anti-hazing.

Morton and Harris have been found guilty in the criminal lawsuit of felony hazing and sentenced to two years in prison. They have appealed.

Bowman, Hughes and Gray pleaded no contest to one count of misdemeanor hazing in the criminal case. They will not have a criminal record.

See also this Update on Penn lawsuit

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-- and in his weekly column "Far from Randolph" in the Winchester Star-Gazette of Randolph County, Indiana.

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