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The parents of a university student have settled a lawsuit with 23 defendants after their son was left blind and unable to walk or talk as a result of hazed by a fraternity.
Danny Santulli, 19, suffered alcohol poisoning during an initiation ceremony at the University of Missouri Phi Gamma Delta fraternity house, known as Fiji, when he was a first-year student in October 2021.
According to the lawsuit filed by David Bianchi on behalf of Santulli's parents, the student was blindfolded and pressured to drink a full bottle of Tito’s vodka by his 'pledge father', Ryan Delanty, before being found unconscious at the frat house by another member.
Santulli was taken to hospital, where staff were forced to restart his heart after he suffered cardiac arrest. He registered a blood alcohol level five times the legal limit and ultimately suffered severe brain damage.
The 19-year-old was released from a rehabilitation hospital in Colorado this week and is now set to receive round-the-clock care from his parents at his home in Praire Eden, Minnesota.
Bianchi described the situation as 'very sad' to The Independent, saying: "He’s got massive brain damage, he’s lost his eyesight, he’s blind, he cannot walk and he cannot communicate in any way.
"You never say never but at this point it’s been about eight months and there’s been no significant change in his condition.”
The lawyer has settled the lawsuit case with all 23 defendants, who included students, officers and board advisors for the fraternity and their chapter, however this week he filed an amended petition seeking to add fraternity brothers Samuel Gandhi and Alec Wetzler into the lawsuit.
Prosecutors charge former MU frat member Alex Wetzler with 2 under age drinking misdemeanors instead of a felony hazing charge for his involvement with the hospitalization of Danny Santulli who remains unresponsive with massive brain damage and blindness. @KRCG13 pic.twitter.com/G4DxIe7mx6— Mark Slavit (@MSlavitKRCG13) June 3, 2022
The amended lawsuit cited by the Columbia Daily Tribune claims Wetzler put a tube into Santulli’s mouth and poured beer into his throat, and that Ghandi failed to assist the student when it was obvious he was dangerously intoxicated.
"At 12:28 am., Danny slid partly off of the couch and ended up with his face on the floor but he had no voluntary control of his arms or legs and remained there until someone passing through the room saw him and put him back on the couch. His skin was pale and his lips were blue, yet no one called 911," the amended petition states.
Wetzler has also been charged with supplying alcohol to a minor and possession of alcohol by a minor. He is the only person to be criminally charged over the incident.
"We didn't know about them when we filed the original lawsuit," Bianchi explained.
In the time since Santulli's experience with Fiji, the University of Missouri has ousted the fraternity from the university campus for repeated violations and sanctioned 13 fraternity members.
If you want to discuss any issues relating to alcohol in confidence, contact Drinkline on 0300 123 1110, 9am–8pm weekdays and 11am–4pm weekends for advice and support
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