Somers Point Rutgers Frat Pledge Sues After Hazing Brain Injury
A 19-year-old Rutgers student from Somers Point is suing the university and the Theta Chi fraternity after he fell down a flight of stairs and fractured his skull in March.
Armand Runte said he was pressured into drinking large amounts of alcohol at the fraternity house during a pledge week event called "Big Brother Night."
In a court filing reported on by NJ.com, Runte's lawyer says on March 24, older frat members "forced, coerced and encouraged" Runte and the other younger pledges "to consume life-threatening amounts of alcohol."
Runte became intoxicated and fell down a flight of stairs at 12:52 p.m. that day, according to his lawsuit.
Rutgers Police were called, and a police report was filed. It noted Runte was taken to Robert Wood Johnson University Medical Center to be treated for the fall.
The lawsuit says the older frat members waited until hours later to call the police and tried to cover up what happened by telling campus police the incident took place at a more recent time, according to the suit filed by Wapner Newman Attorneys at Law.
As a result, Armand Runte suffered a traumatic brain injury, intracranial hemorrhages, and facial and skull fractures which doctors say may be permanent, according to the suit.
Runte's lawyer won't say what Runte's condition is today, and it is unclear if he has returned to school at Rutgers.
Rutgers and Theta Chi fraternity have anti-hazing policies in place, but Runte's lawsuit says these policies were ignored.
According to News12, the Greek letters on Rutgers' Theta Chi house have since been removed, however, it was unclear if that was related to the litigation.
After Timothy J. Piazza, a Penn State student from New Jersey died in 2017 following a hazing incident in a fraternity, Gov. Phil Murphy signed a new anti-hazing bill into law in 2021 that requires schools to adopt policies against hazing and increases penalties for those found guilty.
It was not clear if any charges had been filed.