COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
Thirteen students in a now-defunct University of Missouri fraternity under scrutiny after a freshman pledge's alcohol poisoning are being sanctioned, MU said in a news release Thursday.
Meanwhile, the student's family has reached settlements with 20 of 23 people they sued.
The punishments and lawsuit are tied to the Oct. 20 poisoning of Daniel Santulli, who was hospitalized after Phi Gamma Delta fraternity members allegedly forced him to drink a bottle of vodka. The lawyer for his family, which filed the suit in a Boone County court, said this week that Santulli remains unable to communicate or walk. His medical bills have reached at least $1.6 million, according to court filings.
David Bianchi, the lawyer for the Santullis, filed paperwork seeking court approval of 12 more settlements this week after already reaching agreements with eight people named in the lawsuit. A hearing in the case is set for Tuesday.
MU said its police department has forwarded information from its investigation to the Boone County prosecutor's office and a criminal investigation is ongoing.
The university declined to provide information about the 13 students, citing federal privacy laws. However, "the investigation by MUPD revealed that significant amounts of alcohol were consumed during a social event involving current and potential recruits of the fraternity."
The university said it conducted its own investigation so it didn't interfere with the criminal investigation.
"The university also is conducting a review of campus behavior, especially as it relates to unsafe behaviors, including, but not limited to, alcohol consumption, drug use, hazing and sexual misconduct," according to the release.
"University sanctions can be very severe and can range all the way to suspension and expulsion. Obviously, we have lesser sanctions as well but they are some form of disciplinary punishment," said Christian Basi, a university spokesman.
The fraternity closed after MU withdrew its recognition in the wake of Santulli's poisoning.
Santulli's parents allege in the lawsuit that no one checked on their son after he collapsed on a couch. Later, fraternity members drove him to the hospital instead of calling 911, the family says. His blood-alcohol content was .468 -- more than five times the legal limit to drive.