A judge has removed several defendants from a lawsuit filed by the parents of former Cal soccer player Eloi Vasquez related to his death last March, as first reported by My News LA.
Judge Robert Hess ruled Oct. 11 that there was not enough evidence presented by the plaintiffs to demonstrate liability on the part of the University of Southern California chapter of Tau Kappa Epsilon and several related individuals that led to Vasquez’s death. The lawsuit, filed in January by Vasquez’s parents, alleges negligence on the part of USC, the cellphone app Heaps and Extreme Greeks — which provided security at the party — as well as TKE’s national board and TKE’s Beta-Sigma chapter at USC, among others.
The Beta-Sigma chapter of TKE, Heaps and the Vasquez family’s attorneys at Frantz Law Group could not be reached for comment.
“Out of respect for the Vasquez family and the loss of their son, we have no comment,” said Alex Baker, TKE’s national spokesperson, in an email.
According to the lawsuit, Vasquez died crossing the eastbound Santa Monica Freeway after attending a party at TKE where he was allegedly served alcohol despite being 19 years old. But Hess said the evidence to charge TKE and most associated individuals was insufficient.
He said that, because no alcohol was sold during the party, the Beta-Sigma chapter and Nico Stillman, who was president of the chapter at the time, could not be held liable under the Business and Professions Code.
The plaintiffs’ attorney argued that requiring attendees of the event — which the lawsuit called a launch party for Heaps — to download the app was enough to establish liability for the fraternity chapter. Additionally, Hess said Beta-Sigma had immunity under California’s Civil Code because the fraternity is not an adult, guardian or parent.
But Hess deemed there to be enough evidence to keep Stillman in the case and said he was not immune under the same code. The lawsuit alleges that Stillman directed and was complicit, or participated in the events and the subsequent misconduct involving Vasquez being served alcohol.
The defendants remaining in the case are filing similar motions to be heard at the end of October and early in November.