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Former MU student sues fraternity over his hospitalization

A former student at the University of Missouri sued a fraternity he tried to join over a drinking incident that sent him to the hospital.

Brandon Zingale filed the lawsuit on Thursday in Boone County court against the MU chapter of Kappa Alpha Order. Zingale, then a freshman at MU, was hospitalized in September after a vodka chugging contest at the fraternity house. Members found Zingale the next morning foaming at the mouth and cold to the touch, and hospital staff discovered he had a .41 blood alcohol content.

Members of Kappa Alpha Order claimed no one forced the prospective members, including Zingale, to drink that night.

The lawsuit claimed KA, along with several individual members of the fraternity, were negligent in not reporting Zingale’s condition sooner to medical staff and broke state hazing laws.

“We are hopeful that Brandon’s lawsuit will bring attention to the danger of alcohol hazing at Fraternities and Universities across the country,” Mike and Lynn Zingale, the former student’s parents, said in a statement.

The university withdrew its recognition of Kappa Alpha Order in November over the incident. The fraternity had already been placed on probation that semester when a different prospective member went to the hospital for an alcohol overdose.

The lawsuit from attorney Ken Chackes detailed several reports and studies done about the risks of fraternity membership, including hazing and binge drinking. “Rituals,” like the vodka chugging the Zingales believe was forced upon new members, aren’t properly supervised and put members in danger.

“Expert studies and reports demonstrate that drinking by prospective new fraternity members is particularly dangerous, and often deadly, because of the context in which these events or ‘rituals’ occur,” Chackes wrote in the lawsuit. “The prospective members – recent members of the campus community – are subject to a number of psychological and emotional forces that undermine their ability to exercise self-restraint, and render them particularly susceptible to encouragement to drink to excess.”

Kappa Alpha Order spokesman Brent Buswell declined to comment on the lawsuit.

“The fraternity and legal counsel will review the allegations and will respond in court,” Buswell said in an email.

Kappa Alpha Order was one of 13 Greek organizations that the school punished during the Fall 2016 semester. Delta Upsilon’s national headquarters suspended its MU chapter in December after numerous violations from parties and drinking at the house. The university laid down a permanent ban of Sigma Pi in October, citing the fraternities continued recruitment despite their withdrawal of recognition.

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