FILE - This Nov. 7, 2017 file photo shows the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity house near Florida State University in Tallahassee, Fla. The parents of a Florida State University fraternity pledge who died of alcohol poisoning after a party have filed a civil suit against those who have a connection in their son’s death. Thomas and Sandra Coffey are suing Pi Kappa Phi’s national chapter and several others, including the nine fraternity members who were charged with criminal hazing after Andrew Coffey’s death Nov. 3. (AP Photo/Joseph Reedy, file)

Parents of fraternity pledge file civil suit over his death

February 20, 2018 - 10:51 pm
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — The parents of a Florida State University fraternity pledge who died of alcohol poisoning after a party have filed a civil suit against those who have a connection in their son's death.

Thomas and Sandra Coffey are suing Pi Kappa Phi's national chapter and several others, including the nine fraternity members who were charged with criminal hazing after Andrew Coffey's death Nov. 3. The suit was filed in Leon County's circuit court, which is where Florida State University is located.

Miami lawyer David Bianchi, who is representing the family, said the suit does not specify an amount that they are seeking in damages. He also said that the university is not among the parties being sued even though the chapter adviser is employed by Florida State and is included.

"The university did not do anything wrong. They are just as upset as everyone else," Bianchi said. "We sued those who had a role in Andrew's death."

The state medical examiner said Coffey had a blood alcohol level of .447 at the time of the autopsy. The 20-year old junior drank a lethal amount of bourbon and malt liquor at the fraternity's "Big Brother Night" party, which was held at an off-campus home. The lawsuit does include the two people who rented the home to the fraternity.

It also includes the nine fraternity members who are facing felony hazing charges — Luke E. Kluttz and Clayton M. Muehlstein, both 22; Brett A. Birmingham and Anthony Petagine, both 20; and Conner R. Ravelo, Christopher M. Hamlin, Anthony Oppenheimer, John B. "Jack" Ray and Kyle J. Bauer, all 21.

Ravelo was Coffey's "big brother" in the fraternity. The other eight are members of the fraternity's executive council, which organized the party.

All nine have entered not guilty pleas and are awaiting trial.

FSU President John Thrasher suspended fraternities and sororities three days after Coffey's death. He partially lifted the suspension on Jan. 29, allowing Greek organizations to hold philanthropic events and recruit members. The ban on alcohol and social functions remains in place indefinitely.

Pi Kappa Phi's national office closed the Florida State chapter following Coffey's death. National spokesman Todd Shelton said via text message that his office had no comment on the pending litigation.

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