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Phi Tau legal miseries multiply: Nebraska Wesleyan suit follows on heels of Rider arrests

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LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — The parents of a student who died last year in a fraternity house fire have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the fraternity and the college.

James and Mary Stewart of Ord say Nebraska Wesleyan University and Phi Kappa Tau were negligent in connection with the Nov. 19 blaze that killed their 19-year-old son, Ryan.

The lawsuit, filed this week in Lancaster County District Court, asks for more than $10,000 in medical costs and an unspecified amount for the wrongful death and negligence claims.

The house did not have a fire sprinkler system, nor was one Nebraska Wesleyan University required in the nearly 80-year-old building.

Since the fire, sprinkler systems are being installed in buildings across campus.

The fraternity’s national council suspended the Wesleyan chapter for four years after an investigation into the fatal fire and alleged hazing.

By Hank Nuwer

Hank Nuwer is the Indiana-based author of 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 new book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press.

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