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Indiana Supreme Court to hear arguments in hazing lawsuit

INDIANAPOLIS, April 17 (UPI) -- A former student is seeking to hold Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Ind., responsible for injuries he suffered during a night of fraternity horseplay.

The Indiana Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments Tuesday on whether to dismiss Brian Yost's lawsuit, the Indianapolis Star reported.

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Yost in legal papers says he suffered permanent brain injury in 2007 when hazing degenerated into a general brawl at the Phi Psi fraternity house. He never notified the school of the incident, dropped out and filed a lawsuit almost two years later naming Wabash, Phi Psi and the student he says choked him.

A trial judge dismissed the lawsuit, and an appellate panel upheld that ruling in a 2-1 decision.

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"Simply put, Wabash was not the guarantor of Yost's safety, and, short of placing a representative of the college on every floor of the fraternity on a round-the-clock basis, it is difficult to discern what Wabash could have done differently to protect him under these facts," Judge Terry A. Crone wrote for the majority.

The lawsuit says a history of problems at Wabash, including two student deaths, one in a drunken fall and the other from alcohol poisoning, gave the college an obligation to step up its vigilance.

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Andrew R. Klein, who teaches at Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law in Indianapolis, said a decision in Yost's favor could have a major impact on universities and colleges.

"Institutions are going to need to understand that there could be greater consequences for their failure to more actively engage in the behavior of institutions that are on university-owned property," he said.

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