Cal Poly fraternity reaches settlement in hazing death
May 23, 2011
The parents of a California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo freshman who died while rushing Sigma Alpha Epsilon have reached a settlement with the national fraternity.
Carson Starkey, 18, an Austin Texas native, died after obeying a Sigma Alpha Epsilon order to drink a bottle of alcohol. After Starkey lost consciousness, fraternity members removed his fraternity pin and pledge book and started to drive the unresponsive pledge to the hospital.
However, after Starkey allegedly regained consciousness, the fraternity members took him home and placed him on a bed. Starkey was pronounced dead the next morning.
Scott and Julia Starkey filed a lawsuit in 2010 against the Sigma Alpha Epsilon and nine fraternity members for their alleged involvement in their son’s hazing death.
One of the students, Haithem Ibrahim, 21, agreed to a $500,000 settlement with the Starkeys in Sept. 2010.
The Starkey family provided the following statement:
“Our family filed suit against Sigma Alpha Epsilon and others to hold them accountable for the death of our beloved son, Carson, and to make changes in the fraternity system, university, and law that would protect other students and families. Our family feels it is our responsibility to keep other families from suffering the loss that we have. It has become our duty to help save lives.
“During the lawsuit, we uncovered numerous longstanding, dangerous problems with the way fraternities operate on campuses across the country. These are problems that Sigma Alpha Epsilon and other fraternities have known about for decades. Such failures were a cause of Carson’s death. In reaching a settlement with Sigma Alpha Epsilon, we have required that it make fundamental changes in the way it and its chapters operate, nationwide, particularly concerning hazing and the availability and misuse of alcohol.
“Parents and students will also be able to readily obtain timely, accurate information about potential problems and dangers in the fraternity before they decide to join. These changes are historic because, to our understanding, no other fraternity has ever agreed – voluntarily or in settlement of litigation – to make its operations safer in this manner. And, we would not have been able to compel such changes by proceeding to trial, as a jury could only have awarded us financial compensation. Our efforts to honor Carson’s memory by protecting others have never been focused on personal financial compensation.
“Because our case against the students who prevented Carson from being taken to the hospital, and then failed to get him the care he obviously required, is still proceeding to trial in September, 2011, we will not presently comment further on the settlement or disclose the specific terms of the settlement.”