Where plaintiff knew that he would likely be paddled before joining a fraternity but did not understand the full scope of the hazing he would endure, summary judgment based on the plaintiff’s comparative fault was overturned. Further, where the college had received previous reports of hazing from the fraternity in question, summary judgment based on a lack of duty was overturned.
In Halmon v. Lane College, No. W2019-01224-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. May 29, 2020), plaintiff joined a fraternity at defendant college. He admittedly knew that he would be paddled as part of his initiation process, but he alleged that he was unaware of the extent of the hazing that would be involved. He claimed that he was subjected to extreme hazing, including being beaten, burned, sleep deprived, and compelled to drink concoctions. Plaintiff suffered serious injuries, forcing him to withdraw from college, and he filed this action for negligence and vicarious liability against defendant.
In his complaint, plaintiff alleged that defendant college was vicariously liable based on “the actions (and failures to act) of a Lane College employee, Calvin Walker.” Mr. Walker was the faculty adviser for the fraternity at issue, as well as a member of the fraternity, and plaintiff asserted that “Mr. Walker had failed to prevent injuries to him by failing to properly intervene in the hazing and by failing to report it.” Plaintiff also asserted that defendant was directly negligent in its hiring, supervising, and retention of Mr. Walker.