Drinking Death Blamed on Boston Univ. Frat

     BOSTON (CN) – After their 19-year-old son drank himself to death at a Boston University fraternity party, New Hampshire parents want damages from Sigma Alpha Mu.
     The fraternity’s Beta Upsilon chapter had invited college freshman Anthony Barksdale II as part of a six-man pledge class to its March 2, 2013, meet-and-greet, the April 17 complaint states.
     Since the frat planned to serve alcohol at the off-campus apartment party in Allston, against BU regulations, it did not register the event with the school, Barksdale’s parents say.
     BU is not a party to the action, which does name as defendants four recent BU graduates who lived at the apartment. Courthouse News has redacted these men’s names because of the sensitive nature of the claims.
     One of these upperclassmen gave Barksdale a handle of vodka upon his arrival at 9 p.m., telling the teen to either drink it all himself or share with the other four dozen party attendees, according to the complaint.
     “Tony was an inexperienced drinker and quickly became severely intoxicated as he tried” to finish the 1.75-liter bottle, his parents say.
     When the frat members took Barksdale outside for fresh air, he “collapsed on the ground,” so they brought him inside and laid him out on the couch, the complaint states.
     Though Barksdale’s roommate allegedly saw the teen vomiting on the couch at 11:45 p.m., partygoers did not call 911 until Barksdale began showing signs of respiratory distress, his parents claim.
     Barksdale’s parents say CPR helped their son briefly regain consciousness at around midnight, but that the teen had stopped breathing by the time EMS arrived.
     Shortly after arriving at Saint Elizabeth’s Hospital in Brighton, Barksdale died from complications of acute ethanol intoxication including acute aspiration pneumonia, according to the complaint.
     Barksdale’s parents say the toxicology report showed that their son’s blood-alcohol content had reached 0.33 percent at the time of his death.
     In the wake of Barksdale’s death, the Indianapolis-based national fraternity Sigma Alpha Mu suspended its Boston University chapter.
     The complaint says the fraternity is still responsible, however, because it created an environment that encouraged excessive drinking even among underage partygoers.
     “The culture of the defendants and their combined efforts caused Tony to drink far to excess and caused his death,” the complaint states.
     It would have harmed “the respective reputations of all of the defendants … by the calling of police and emergency services to provide aid to a highly intoxicated, under-age drinker, even though the individual defendants and the Beta Upsilon Chapter were trained to do so by Boston University,” the complaint states.
     Barksdale’s parents say this “delay in seeking treatment also caused Tony’s death.”
     The New Hampshire parents are represented by Andru Volinsky of Manchester, N.H. They seek punitive damages for wrongful death.

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