24-Hour News 8 discovered Tuesday that a Wabash College fraternity's national headquarters has been warned they'll face a lawsuit regarding the death of a college student.
Jim Russell from the national headquarters of Delta Tau Delta told 24-Hour News 8 he has been warned of the pending lawsuit.
That student died at the on-campus fraternity house of Delta Tau Delta in October of 2008. Russell says he anticipates the filing of the suit "soon" because the two year anniversary of the student's death is approaching.
On Oct. 5, 2008, 18-year-old pledge Johnny D. Smith of Tucson, Ariz., died of alcohol poisoning. It was after a party at the Delta Tau Delta fraternity house.
In November 2008 the family's attorney, Steve Wagner of Carmel, released emails fraternity members sent to Smith. In one email, Smith was told there would be "an abundance of alcohol" at an upcoming party. The email goes on to say a fraternity brother will decide whether or not freshmen will get to drink at the party. Smith died at that party. His attorney, Wagner, said Smith had five times the legal limit of alcohol in his system when he died.
Another email warned pledges not to say "anything about anything" when they meet with a representative from the national fraternity.
If questioned, the pledges were instructed to keep quiet and remember "there was no party after closing ceremony and no ‘hazing' during chapel sing practices."
Wabash College kicked Delta Tau Delta off campus and the fraternity has since been disbanded after the national organization suspended the chapter.
The national chapter of Delta Tau Delta based in Fishers would not comment on possible litigation. They referred 24-Hour News 8 to their attorney.
24-Hour News 8 called Wabash College for comment on the story and the college public affairs representative, Jim Amidon, stated policy does not allow for him to comment on current, possible or pending litigation. No word on whether Wabash College will be named in the suit.
24-Hour News 8 called the Smith family attorney, Steve Wagner. He has not returned our call.
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