A settlement has been reached in the case of 18 year-old Nolan Burch, the Williamsville native and Canisius High school graduate who died in 2014 during a fraternity hazing incident at West Virginia University.
Payouts were made by five defendants, including WVU, Burch’s fraternity Kappa Sigma, the pledge master, and Burch’s “big brother” Richard Schwartz - who is also a Western New York native - according to Burch’s family’s attorney Lawlor Quinlan.
On November 12th, 2014 - two days before he died - Burch and other pledges were blindfolded and brought into a room to meet their “big brother” - their mentor in the fraternity - during a so-called Big-Little Night.
When Burch’s blindfold was removed, he was paired up with Schwartz and drank nearly an entire bottle of alcohol, according to investigators. He immediately became unstable, and passed out. Burch’s fraternity brothers brought him into a separate room, put him on a table, and closed the door.
They thought he was sleeping off the alcohol, according to Quinlan. Quinlan says an expert witness proved that Burch would have lived had his fraternity brothers sought medical care immediately, instead of leaving him in a room alone.
Burch's blood alcohol level was 0.493 at the time of his death, more than six times the legal limit for driving.
The lawsuit was filed in 2015. Details of the settlement are sealed.
The Burch family has established the NMB Foundation in Nolan's memory, which is dedicated to raising awareness about the dangers of hazing.