Kappa Delta Rho says it had “no duty of care” for a Penn State fraternity member.
James Vivenzio stepped forward in 2015, telling police about a secret Facebook page documenting questionable activity at the Zeta chapter of Kappa Delta Rho. While no criminal charges were filed in the case, the university did subsequently suspend KDR for three years.
Vivenzio later sued the university, the Zeta chapter, Zeta alumni, the Penn State Interfraternity Council, the Panhellenic Association and KDR’s national organization over hazing he said included being forced to drink large amounts of alcohol mixed with things like urine and vomit.
While Vivenzio’s case has taken a backseat in recent months to the allegations that Beta Theta Pi pledge Timothy Piazza died after a hazing incident during a February frat party where he went without medical attention for 12 hours after falling down a flight of basement stairs, the KDR civil case is not over.
A new filing from KDR National asks the court to not just dismiss it from the case — as already happened with the Panhellenic Association — but filed a new matter asking for costs and attorneys’ fees as well.
KDR attorney Gaetano Piccirilli wrote in the filing that the fraternity’s hazing policy required Vivenzio or someone speaking for him to notify the national organization that hazing was being conducted, and says neither the young man, his family nor the university did so.
In answer to charges of negligence, Piccirilli denied all allegations.
“Furthermore, KDR National maintains it owed no duty of care to Vivenzio,” he wrote.
According to the documents, KDR National is the “national Greek-lettered fraternal organization,” while the Zeta chapter is “separate and distinct, but affiliated.”
“KDR National breached no duty of care to Vivenzio and therefore Vivenzio cannot maintain a negligence claim,” Piccirilli wrote. “The conduct of Vivenzio and Penn State (as well as other defendants) were intervening and/or superseding causes and therefore Vivenzio may not recover against KDR National.”
The other defendant specifically pointed out is the Interfraternity Council. Piccirilli’s filing says that if any of Vivenzio’s claims are true, Penn State and the IFC should be held solely liable, or should shoulder the responsibility with KDR National. The fraternity also wants costs and legal fees in that instance.
“The whole question of responsibility is so fascinating,” said Vivenzio’s attorney Aaron Freiwald. “I think it’s a dance. I think it’s a game. I think they are treating it with a total lack of seriousness.”