$16.2 Million Judgment Overturned in Texas Hazing Case

Judge accepts fraternity's explanation for its failure to respond to original lawsuit.

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A Texas judge has overturned his previous $16.2 million judgment against the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, which was sued by the parents of a pledge who died allegedly after a hazing event at the University of Texas, the Houston Chronicle reports. The judge had issued the original ruling in October after the national organization and the UT chapter did not respond to the lawsuit.

The judge has accepted the fraternity's explanation that the failure to respond was an accident, and the lawsuit will now proceed as if the $16.2 million judgment had never been handed down.

Freshman Tyler Cross died in November 2006 after falling from the fifth floor of his off-campus apartment building. Investigators said pledges were given half-gallon bottles of liquor, and Cross's blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit of .08. Two pledge trainers pleaded no contest to hazing and furnishing to minors and were sentenced to four days in jail and given two years' deferred adjudication.