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Judge denies motion to dismiss EKU fraternity hazing lawsuit

A Fayette Circuit judge denied a motion Thursday to dismiss a hazing lawsuit against Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc.

Eastern Kentucky University student Brent Whiteside filed a lawsuit against the Philadelphia-based organization Jan. 22. He says the fraternity had a total disregard for his health, safety and welfare while he sought admission into the EKU chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi in spring 2008 and is responsible for the hazing he sustained.

On April 16, Stephen R. Chappell, an attorney for Kappa Alpha Psi, filed a motion to dismiss the case, saying the national organization had no duty to supervise the local chapters' members. Fayette Circuit Judge Pamela Goodwine said during a hearing Thursday that Chappell's motion was premature and she denied it.

Another hearing was not scheduled.

Whiteside says in the lawsuit that the members of the EKU Kappa chapter repeatedly beat him with their hands, fists, feet, paddles and canes as part of initiation rituals from about Jan. 29 to March 7, 2008. He says members of the University of Kentucky chapter of the fraternity joined the others in the rituals March 6 and repeatedly punched and slapped Whiteside.

Whiteside was later hospitalized with kidney failure.

Kappa Alpha Psi recklessly failed to supervise its members, which resulted in Whiteside's "serious and permanent physical injuries as well as mental impairment, anguish, embarrassment and humiliation," according to the lawsuit.

The suit says Whiteside was unable to complete his spring 2008 semester at EKU, suffered lost wages and an impairment of his future earning capacity and will continue to "incur significant medical expenses."

He is seeking an undetermined amount of punitive damages from the organization.

In January, three fraternity members were charged in relation to Whiteside's hazing. Thomas Barnes, Alonzo C. McGill and Gabriel M. McLaren pleaded guilty to fourth-degree assault charges in Madison District Court. The men were sentenced to various lengths of home incarceration according to their involvement in the hazing and cooperation with police.

Barnes and McLaren were undergraduates at EKU at the time of the assaults. McLaren has since graduated.

The three men could potentially have their records expunged by the end of the year.

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