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WVU Settles Lawsuit over 2014 Fraternity Hazing Death

Nolan Burch died from acute alcohol poisoning and cardiac arrest after pledging West Virginia University’s Kappa Sigma fraternity.

WVU Settles Lawsuit over 2014 Fraternity Hazing Death

Burch's blood alcohol content was 0.493 at the time of his death.

West Virginia University has settled a lawsuit with the parents of a student who died as the result of a fraternity hazing ritual.

On Nov. 12, 2014, 18-year-old Nolan Burch was discovered by police unconscious on the floor of the Kappa Sigma fraternity house in Morgantown. Burch, who was a pledge, was instructed by a member to drink a bottle of 100 proof whiskey in under an hour, according to the family’s attorney.

He died two days later after suffering from acute alcohol poisoning and cardiac arrest, reports The Buffalo News. His blood alcohol content was 0.493 at the time of his death.

Just two days prior to Burch’s death, Kappa Sigma’s national leaders said they had pulled the WVU chapter’s charter for previous violations.

A state government insurer paid $250,000 for the West Virginia University Board of Governors to settle the lawsuit. The school denies any culpability in Burch’s death, stating that the WVU board “expressly denies liability and wrongdoing and merely intends to enter into this Agreement to secure peace and avoid the time and expense of this litigation.”

Of the $250,000 settlement, the state Board of Risk and Insurance Management gave a $20,000 donation to WVU Children’s Hospital Critical Care Services and $5,000 to the Center for Organ Recovery and Education, according to The Charleston Gazette-Mail.

A fraternity member who did not participate in the event performed CPR on Burch. The student was able to get Burch’s heart pumping enough to allow his lungs, kidneys and liver to be harvested for transplants. Four people have since received Nolan’s organs.

In August, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a new anti-hazing law prohibiting certain physical contact or requiring physical activity during an organization’s initiation ceremony to prevent the deaths or serious injuries of students during fraternity pledging.

Following his death, Nolan’s parents TJ and Kimberly Burch established the NMB Foundation to educate young adults on the dangers of hazing.

About the Author

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Amy Rock is Campus Safety's senior editor. She graduated from UMass Amherst with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications and a minor in Education.

She has worked in the publishing industry since 2011, in both events and digital marketing.

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