Foltz family files wrongful death suit in Franklin County


By Marie Thomas-Baird - mthomas@aimmediamidwest.com



COLUMBUS — The law firm representing the family of Stone Foltz has filed a civil lawsuit in Franklin County.

Cooper Elliott, who represents the Foltz family, on Tuesday filed a civil complaint in Franklin County Common Pleas Court seeking damages for the wrongful death of Foltz.

Foltz, a sophomore at the Bowling Green State University, died in March from alcohol poisoning after excessive drinking, allegedly at an off-campus fraternity event. He was a 2019 Buckeye Valley High School graduate.

The family is asking for minimum compensatory damages of $25,000 for each claim; however, the family will seek a judgment substantially more at trial.

The complaint alleges that the Pi Kappa Alpha International Fraternity, the Pi Kappa Alpha/Delta Beta Chapter at BGSU, as well as 10 individuals and potentially more individuals, are responsible for Stone’s death.

“By filing a civil complaint on behalf of Stone Foltz and the Foltz family, we are doing what is necessary to hold the Pi Kappa Alpha International Fraternity, the local fraternity chapter, and individuals accountable for their behavior that led to Stone Foltz’s death,” said a written statement from the law firm.

“The complaint details a disturbing history of hazing within the international fraternity dating back almost 60 years, culminating in the tragic wrongful death of Stone Foltz. While nothing can bring Stone back to his family, we are confident the family will get justice and accountability through the legal system.”

The complaint alleges that during the pledging process to Pi Kappa Alpha, Foltz was provided with and forced to drink an extraordinary amount of alcohol in a short period of time.

The hazing caused bodily injury, emotional distress and ultimately, Foltz’s death, the complaint reads.

The case was filed in Franklin County because one or more of the defendants lives there.

Seven members of BGSU’s chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha are facing charges in Wood County. The civil complaint also lists their involvement in the fraternity.

• Jacob Krinn, 20, Delaware, has been indicted on charges of first-degree felony involuntary manslaughter, third-degree felony involuntary manslaughter, reckless homicide, felonious assault, hazing, failure to comply with underage alcohol laws, and obstructing official business.

He was reportedly Foltz’s Big Brother.

• Daylen Dunson, 20, Cleveland, has been indicted on charges of third-degree felony involuntary manslaughter, tampering with evidence, obstructing justice, hazing, failure to comply with underage alcohol laws, and obstructing official business.

He was president of the fraternity.

• Troy Henricksen, 23, Grove City, has been indicted on charges of third-degree felony involuntary manslaughter, reckless homicide, tampering with evidence, hazing, and failure to comply with underage alcohol laws.

He was a new member educator for the fraternity. Henricksen reportedly planned the event but did not attend. He delegated responsibility to Jarret Prizel.

• Prizel, 19, Olean, New York, has been indicted on charges of third-degree felony involuntary manslaughter, hazing, and failure to comply with underage alcohol laws.

He was assistant new member educator in the fraternity.

• Canyon Caldwell, 21, Dublin, has been indicted on charges of third-degree felony involuntary manslaughter, tampering with evidence, hazing, failure to comply with underage alcohol laws, and obstructing official business.

He is a member.

• Niall Sweeney, 21, Erie, Pennsylvania, has been indicted on charges of third-degree felony involuntary manslaughter, hazing, failure to comply with underage alcohol laws, and obstructing official business.

He was external vice president for the fraternity.

• Aaron Lehane, 21, Loveland, has been indicted on charges of tampering with evidence, hazing, failure to comply with underage alcohol laws, and obstructing official business.

He was an active or inactive member of the fraternity.

The civil complaint also lists Garrett Hord, Medina, who was an assistant new member educator in the fraternity; Jamir Dodson, Lake County, who was recruitment chair for the fraternity; Benjamin Boyers, Lucas County, who was sergeant of arms; and John Does one-10 who remain unknown. Their names and addresses could not be determined prior to the filing of the complaint.

The complaint cites 11 claims, including five for negligence, violation of Ohio’s anti-hazing statute, two for negligent supervision, two for intentional infliction of emotional distress, and civil conspiracy. These charges are either against the fraternity or the 10 members plus the John Does.

According to the complaint, on the evening of March 4, pledges attended a party at the fraternity’s off-campus house. They were blindfolded, yelled at and pushed in an effort to disorient them. Krinn provided a bottle of alcohol to Foltz, who was forced to drink the entire bottle before leaving. He consumed it in 18 minutes, according to the complaint.

Around 10 p.m., Krinn took Foltz back at his apartment and was supposed to spend the night to make sure he was safe, according to the complaint. Foltz was taken from the car into his apartment and left on the couch.

At 10:30, Foltz’s roommate arrived home, found Foltz face down on the couch, and that he was breathing.

At 11:23, a 911 call was made after Foltz stopped breathing and his face and ears turned purple and blue.

Due to lack of oxygen for an extended period of time, doctors were unable to revive Foltz, according to the complaint. He died March 7.

According to the Lucas County coroner, Foltz’s blood alcohol level was 0.394 and the ruling of his death was due to fatal ethanol intoxication which occurred during a fraternity hazing ritual.

The legal limit is 0.08.

BGSU put the fraternity on interim suspension March 5 and expelled the fraternity on April 9 with no possibility of reinstatement.

Pi Kappa Alpha International Fraternity is located in Memphis, Tennessee. The complaint says despite the explicit prohibition of hazing, it continues to be a well-known occurrence in Pi Kappa Alpha chapters around the country.

“This fraternity has established a system that is toxic and dangerous to unsuspecting undergrads being persuaded to pledge,” according to the complaint.

The complaint lists the death of a pledge that occurred at Georgetown College in 1965 and goes on to list a death at Texas Tech in 1976, at Southern Illinois University in 2004, and at Northern Illinois University in 2012. Several incidents of mental abuse, second-degree burns, branding and hazing were reported from from 1989 to 2018.

A BGSU student filed a report against Pi Kappa Alpha in December 2018. An anonymous student reported he learned new members were required to strip down to their underwear and join each other in a large hole in the ground. They were required to fight each other to get out of the hole while being pushed back in if they made it out.

In November 2018, another student reported about the same event that a resident in his dorm vomited violently after drinking an alcohol concoction known as a “family drink.” In the report, the student said the fraternity has been told numerous times they are not allowed to serve alcohol that is not prepackaged due to the amount of drugging instances and sexual harassment.

BGSU was made aware of the event but did not press charges, the complaint states.

The fraternity was on probation from Dec. 9, 2019 to May 8, 2020.

By Marie Thomas-Baird

mthomas@aimmediamidwest.com