The family of late UC Berkeley student Eloi Vasquez filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the University of Southern California as well as the fraternity where Vasquez spent the last hours before his death in March 2015.
In the wrongful death lawsuit, filed by Vasquez’s parents, the plaintiffs singled out the national executive board of the fraternity, Tau Kappa Epsilon, and USC, among several other individuals associated with the two groups, alleging that the chapter served alcohol to Vasquez with the knowledge that he was underage.
The lawsuit also claims that two businesses, Extreme Greeks and Heaps Apps, were associated with the party that Vasquez attended and were therefore also responsible for overseeing the event.
Vazquez’s parents allege that because Tau Kappa Epsilon’s risk management policies and USC’s student conduct code both clearly delineate policies prohibiting underage alcohol consumption, both parties acted on the part of negligence by not designating individuals to check the ages of those present.
Vasquez died in March 2015 while on a spring break trip to visit friends at USC.The 19-year-old was killed by a car early on March 28 after trying to cross a freeway exit off Interstate 10 in Los Angeles.
Vasquez had left a party at the fraternity a few hours prior to his death, where the family alleges that he was served alcohol despite the fact that chapter members knew he was a minor.
The lawsuit also alleges that the chapter members then allowed Vasquez to leave the party alone despite being intoxicated, and “failed to take care of Vasquez when it was obvious he was … unable to care for himself.”
Vasquez, a campus freshman and member of the campus men’s soccer, gained a reputation for hard work as a midfielder. According to the lawsuit, Vasquez had accepted a place on the team in order to pursue a career as a professional soccer player. The men’s soccer head coach, Kevin Grimes, said Vasquez’s dedication to honing his soccer skills outside of practice.
“As a parent, you’re supposed to teach them, but he was the one who taught me. He was the one who gave me advice. He was always there for me,” Vasquez’s mother Wendy Margolin said.
Vasquez’s parents are pursuing monetary and punitive damages in Vasquez’s death, alleging wrongful death and negligence on the part of the various plaintiffs. Included in the damages are reimbursements for funeral and medical expenses, as well as compensation for the loss of “love, companionship…and comfort.”
In the lawsuit, a demand for a trial by jury has been set for July 27, 2017, and is expected to last for 21 days.
USC and Tau Kappa Epsilon’s national office did not respond to requests for comment.
Contact Adrienne Shih and Anna Sturla at [email protected].