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Frat hazing judgment reversed by judge

AUSTIN, Texas, Nov. 27 (UPI) -- A state judge has reversed a $16.2 million default judgment arising from hazing allegations against a University of Texas fraternity and the death of a pledge.

Judge John Dietz ruled that the default judgment will be reversed and ordered a new trial on the claims against the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity prompted by a student's death in 2006, the Austin (Texas) American-Statesman said Thursday.

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Texas law enables lawsuit defendants to ask for a new trial if they are able to offer a sufficient reason why they did not defend themselves from the litigation before a default judgment was ordered.

Austin lawyer Jim Ewbank argued before Dietz that the fraternity chapters did not respond to the lawsuit due to questions regarding the legal service of the suit to the correct individual.

The newspaper reported the suit was filed by the parents of Texas freshman Tyler Cross, who died in 2006 as he was pledging the national fraternity.

Cross' parents alleged the fraternity's hazing rituals were responsible for their son falling to his death, while lawyers for the defendants have argued the incident was the limited responsibility of certain frat members.

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