Commonwealth's Statement of the Case
This is the full text of the Commonwealth's Statement of the Case in Commonwealth v. Phi Gamma Delta Fraternity, submitted by Assistant District Attorney Pamela J. Weschler.
Now comes the Commonwealth in the above-captioned matter and, for purposes of the Court's edification, respectfully files the following Statement of the Case:
During the early morning hours of Saturday, September 27, 1997, eighteen-year-old Scott Krueger fell into an alcohol-induced coma at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, located at 28 The Fenway in the City of Boston. Scott Krueger had become gravely ill after drinking an inherently dangerous amount of alcohol at an organized, mandatory, annual fraternity hazing event. While at this event, fraternity officers and members provided Krueger with enough alcohol to raise his blood-alcohol level to .401 - a toxic amount that is more than five (5) times the legal limit in Massachusetts.
Scott Krueger had arrived at MIT's freshman class orientation from his hometown of Orchard Park, New York on August 20, 1997. Four days later, on August 24, 1997, Krueger "pledged" and moved into a basement room at the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, some two months after his high school graduation. During the weeks immediately preceding Scott Krueger's death, the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity had hosted several social events during which many underage students became ill from over-consumption of alcohol.
On Wednesday, September 24, 1997, Krueger and the rest of his twelve-member "pledge group" were told by their fraternity's elected "pledge trainer" that an event, traditionally called "Animal House Night", would be held on the evening of Friday, September 26, 1997. The pledge trainer advised these twelve freshmen pledges that their attendance was mandatory and that they would meet their fraternity "big brothers" at the end of the night. The pledges were told that they were to gather together that night at 8:30 p.m. in a designated room at the fraternity, watch the movie "Animal House", and collectively drink a certain prescribed amount of alcohol. Scott Krueger expressed anxiety about the event to his twin sister and to fellow pledges at MIT. Like most eighteen-year-olds fresh out of high school, Krueger had limited experience with alcohol before arriving at MIT and moving into an MIT fraternity.
During the first part of the event on the night of September 26, 1997, the Phi Gamma Delta "pledge trainer" provided the group of pledges win beer and a bottle of Jack Daniels whiskey that he had purchased earlier. The pledges consumed all of the alcohol. At about 11:00 p.m., the fraternity "big brothers" entered the "Animal House" room and the pledge Gainer ordered the pledges to line-up. The "big brothers" were introduced and then the whole group sang a Phi Gamma Delta drinking song that ended with the words "drink her down, drink her down, drink her down, down, down". Each "big brother" had an additional bottle of hard liquor to share with his "little brother". Scott Krueger's "big brother" presented him with a bottle of Bacardi spiced rum.
As the event wore on, Krueger began complaining of nausea, and lay down on a couch. Within minutes he began to lose consciousness. Two "big brothers" of the fraternity then carried Krueger to his new bedroom in the fraternity, placed him on his stomach,, and positioned a trash can nearby. Approximately ten minutes later Krueger was unconscious and covered with vomit. Instead of immediately calling 911, a fraternity member dialed the MIT campus police who in turn transferred the call to 911. Emergency medical technicians responded quickly and discovered that Scott Krueger was not breathing, his face was blue, and he had choked on his own vomit. He was rushed by ambulance to Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in Boston, where he remained in a coma for some forty hours until he was ultimately pronounced dead on Monday, September 29, 1997.
An autopsy performed the following day at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner revealed that the cause of Scott Krueger's death - in medical terms - was acute alcohol intoxication and aspiration. An extensive investigation by a Suffolk County grand jury over the next twelve months revealed that the cause of Scott Krueger's death - in real terms -was the wanton and reckless conduct on the part of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, its officers, and its members in promoting and orchestrating the "Animal House" drinking event, supplying an inherently dangerous amount of alcohol, and then abandoning Scott Krueger when he was in dire need of medical treatment.
This was not the first time that police and medical personnel had responded to an alcohol-related incident at MIT's Phi Gamma Delta fraternity. In fact, the fraternity was notorious for its frequent parties and availability of alcohol. As of the fall of 1997, the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity had a history of ongoing problems associated with dangerous underage drinking that dated back at least five years. Boston police officers, MIT police officers, and various medical personnel had been called to the fraternity on at least fifteen (15) different occasions during the preceding five years - for complaints ranging from drinking and loud parties to fighting, and most significantly for students requiring medical assistance from "binge" drinking.
In 1996 and again in 1997, the City of Boston Licensing Board disciplined the fraternity for drinking-related violations. One of these violations involved a party with over one-thousand students, most of whom were under twenty-one years of age. Neighbors also had repeatedly complained to MIT administrators and fraternity officials about drinking, noise and trash from parties at this fraternity. One neighbor described the situation as "dangerous". Even fraternity alumni themselves had recommended that an alcohol ban be imposed on the fraternity house and, in May of 1997, one fraternity graduate noted that a student had almost died from a drunken, four-story fall from the house.
The fact that MIT's Phi Gamma Delta fraternity was out of control was well-known throughout the Boston-area college community. In 1996, a Dean at nearby Boston College informed MIT administrators that three underage Boston College students had been at the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity on three separate occasions and had been served alcohol to the point that each had required hospitalization. The Boston College Dean wrote to MIT administrators that it seems that [the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity] is the place to go for freshmen women and there are no restrictions on either the age limit or quantity of alcohol served. Either of these incidents could have been very serious from both a medical and legal perspective. Anything you can do to address this issue would be appreciated."
MIT's Phi Gamma Delta fraternity never took any steps to curb their serious alcohol problems. Instead, the fraternity officers and members continued to encourage underage drinking by hosting the events and providing the alcohol. While many of these parties caused students to become ill from over-consumption of alcohol, the "Animal House" celebration proved fatal.