WVU responds to lawsuit in WNYer's hazing death

Posted at 11:23 AM, Dec 20, 2015

West Virginia University's governing board has responded to a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the family of a student who died following a hazing for a fraternity that had its charter revoked.

In response to the lawsuit, the WVU's Board of Governors argues it did not sanction any events that led to 18-year-old Nolan Burch's death in November 2014, according to the Dominion Post. It cited a number of other reasons.

Two Kappa Sigma fraternity member are facing hazing-related misdemeanors following the death of Burch, a Williamsville native and Canisius High grad.

Twenty-one-year-old Jordon Parrish Hankins of Hightstown, New Jersey and 20-year-old Richard William Schwartz of Buffalo are both charged with hazing and conspiracy to commit hazing.

According to a criminal complaint against Schwartz, he provided Burch with a bottle of liquor for an initiation ceremony at the Kappa Sigma house on Nov. 12.

Police say Hankins, the "grand master" of the pledges, orchestrated the blindfolding, escorting and presenting the pledges to their “big brothers.”

Burch was later found unresponsive and rushed to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead two days later. Police say medical tests showed Burch’s blood alcohol level was 0.493 – more than six times the legal limit of 0.08.

The Burch family filed the lawsuit in Monongalia County Circuit Court against WVU and the national chapter, among others. The suit alleges negligence.

WVU filed its response this week.

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