A former Sigma Chi fraternity pledge at the UA is suing the chapter and several members, saying they damaged his reputation by blaming him for the nonfatal overdose of a female party attendee, court documents show.
In the lawsuit, filed Oct. 7 in Pima County Superior Court, University of Arizona student Tyler Alev says his friendships have suffered as a result of defamatory statements made by the defendants.
On Oct. 7, 2015, Sigma Chi fraternity hosted an off-campus party for its new members and for new members of the Alpha Phi sorority, despite the fact that it was on probation by the university at the time, prohibiting members from “hosting, attending or participating in organizational events,” the lawsuit says.
During the party, an underage female ended up at a hospital after becoming intoxicated with a combination of alcohol and cocaine, according to the lawsuit.
As Alev was leaving the party, fraternity member Mark Stills burned Alev’s bicep with a cigarette, the lawsuit says, in what it calls an act of hazing. Stills is named as a defendant in the lawsuit.
“Fearing loss of recognition or further probation, key members of the fraternity jointly agreed or conspired to blame the plaintiff for the drug intoxication of the sorority girl, with whom he had no contact,” the lawsuit says.
At a fraternity meeting several days later, one of the defendants, Kyle Frattali, read a false statement supposedly made by the victim, stating that Alev had forced her into doing cocaine, according to the suit.
Another fraternity member, Kyle Gunderson, knowingly backed up the false statement read by Frattali, and Alev was removed from the fraternity, the lawsuit says.
The suit alleges that Alev was targeted because he was one of the chapter’s few Hispanic members.
Brian Kewin, Daniel Benita, Tyler Rice, Matt Senger and Caden Williams, all members of Sigma Chi, are believed to have participated in the “defamatory selection” of Alev by the fraternity, the lawsuit says.
It’s unclear what role Luke Treffers played in the events, but he is also named as a defendant .
The suit says that in addition to the damage to Alev’s reputation and personal relationships, he has also suffered mental distress.
“The actions of the defendants and each of them evidence an evil mind as defined by Arizona law, entitling him to punitive or exemplary damages,” the lawsuit says.
Alev is asking the court for damages for costs incurred and further relief “upon the presentation of evidence.”
Alev’s attorney, William Risner, was not immediately available for comment about the lawsuit.
The UA’s chapter of Sigma Chi is on probation until December 2018 for two code of conduct violations that have already occurred this school year, according to the school’s Sorority and Fraternity Programs website.
Under probation, any violation of the code of conduct could result in the loss of university recognition, according to the website.
The chapter is prohibited from hosting any events with alcohol until the middle of December and is facing $3,050 in fines.