Wrongful death lawsuit filed against USC, fraternity after death of campus soccer player Eloi Vasquez

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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].

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  • Ray E. Gallo

    18 years olds lack brain development and have bad judgment. 21 years olds are a little better. Hence the laws limiting 18 year old access to alcohol. People are legally required to comply with laws. If you want to change the laws, and enough others agree, you can change, them. Call your congressman or start a proposition. Bottom line: Would he have played in the freeway sober? That’ll be one of the questions for the jury.

  • ShadrachSmith

    Friends don’t let friends walk drunk? Interesting legal theory.

    • still trying

      Again it shows how little supervision occurs at these frats. Where alcohol is served to minors against state law, but is ignored by all of the adults in charge. Over 1800 college deaths occur in this country directly related to the illegal consumption of alcohol. More than in the last 2 wars, combined. When more people die on campus from underage drinking in this country than combat, something is terribly wrong. It also shows how little the adults in charge, care.

      • ShadrachSmith

        There are those who are going to kill themselves with drugs or whatever. Nobody knows why, and nobody knows how to stop them. Families often blame others for the event, because it helps mom feel better. But walking into traffic smells of suicide by BMW.

        • still trying

          Sorry, your logic is flawed. Plus, many frats introduce questionable ingredients into their punch which may cause unforeseen reactions in some individuals. Alcohol served as often and to as many people as frats do, a liquor license should be required.

          • ShadrachSmith

            I’m sorry nobody rushed you. Don’t take it personal, don’t hate them.

          • still trying

            I was drafted right out of high school. I made three deployments and seen things you would never comprehend. By the time I returned to civilian life, joining a frat was the last thing I thought of.

    • still trying

      So, you had a fake ID at 16. So in the eyes of the law you are a criminal. You must be proud of yourself.

      • ShadrachSmith

        Yes. Anybody can drive safely while drunk if they keep it simple and focus on staying alive. Make of that what you will.

        Again, I deleted the personal part because this isn’t about me. It is about mom suing the university for letting her kid play in traffic.

        • still trying

          Again you show your immaturity and raise dangerous warning sign. You statement about anybody can drive drunk safely is delusional. You put many people at risk by your childish behavior and again, immaturity.

    • still trying

      So, by puking on the way to your car, indicates you can not be trusted. This is not moderation as you stated. Then, you got into your car, drunk, and drove home, another law broken. I hope you are not a representation of Cal students. If so, the admissions dept has failed, miserably. I also note that your comments were censored compared to the email I received and what was posted here.. Another indication that DailyCal thought your response was inappropriate and dangerous. Cal alumni have a very high rate of alcoholism, suicides and revocation of drivers lic related to driving under the influence. You will be one of those statistics, I’m afraid.

      • ShadrachSmith

        I removed the personal anecdote because the story isn’t about me. Your disapprobation is noted.

        My point is that if her kid dies playing on the freeway, that is the kid’s fault, with mom in second place, and it is crazy to blame the university. I regret any inconvenience :-)

  • awwyiss

    He was over 18, therefore a legal adult. He is responsible for his decisions, not the fraternity.

    • still trying

      The law states, 21, legal age to drink alcohol. He is considered a minor. It is illegal to serve alcohol to a minor in the state of California. And don’t say if you can vote and join the military, drinking should be 18. You and he were not in the military, so state law holds. You need to be 21. Also the frat served alcohol to a minor. Which is also against the law in California.

      • I_h8_disqus

        The parents had 18 years to raise a son who would not break the law by drinking illegally. The university and the fraternity should be allowed to sue the parents for their higher level of negligence. The university should not be held responsible for the criminal activities of its students.

        • still trying

          Are you serious? When someone breaks the law and serves alcohol to a minor, that is a criminal act. Since the laws were broken by the frat, they are ultimately responsible for what occurs on their property. The law also states if an entity is aware of this criminal behavior, USC, and ignores it. They can be held responsible. California law.