Family reaches settlement in hazing death of student they say suffered ‘great pain, agony’
The family of a New York State college student who died after an alleged hazing incident in 2019 has reached a settlement with three fraternity members and other defendants, according to court documents.
Six defendants — including the three fraternity members, University at Buffalo (UB) Heights Housing LLB, Sigma Pi Fraternity International and the Sigma Pi Epsilon-Omicron Chapter — have agreed to pay a sum of $665,000 to Sebastian Serafin-Bazan’s family as part of a settlement in their wrongful death lawsuit filed against the defendants in 2020.
Serafin-Bazan, an 18-year-old freshman at the University at Buffalo, died after an alleged April 12, 2019, hazing incident inside the school’s Sigma Pi house on Custer Street.
The lawsuit accuses the defendants of carelessly and recklessly allowing unlawful hazing to take place at the fraternity house. Defendants “also acted recklessly in failing to ensure the plaintiff received medical attention and caused and/or contributed to his death by their reckless disregard for his wellbeing,” eventually resulting in Serafin-Bazan’s death, the complaint states.
Serafin-Bazan “was caused to suffer great pain, agony and caused great conscious pain and suffering until the time of his death,” the complaint alleges.
Among his injuries listed in court documents are blunt-force trauma to the head; hemorrhages on his back, arms, legs and scalp; blunt impact injuries to the torso, trauma resulting in ulcers to the rectum; traumatic heart failure causing brain death and other severe injuries.
Police told The Buffalo News at the time of Serafin-Bazan’s death that fraternity members had ordered him to perform exercises inside the Sigma Pi house on the evening of April 11, 2019, and into the early morning of April 12. The freshman apparently suffered cardiac arrest, and police found him unresponsive on the lawn of the fraternity house that day. He died in a hospital five days later, The Buffalo News reported.
A Snapchat presented as evidence in the case from Serafin-Bazan says he was one of two freshmen still pledging after the fraternity’s hazing process.
“[Two] dropped so its only [two] of us now,” the Snapchat message reads.
The victim’s mother, Juana Correa, continues to seek $20 million in claims from UB and the state of New York. UB told Fox News Digital that it does not comment on pending litigation.
The school announced in 2020 that it was taking disciplinary action against eight students involved in the hazing incident that allegedly led to Serafin-Bazan’s death. The fraternity chapter was dismantled in January 2020.
“Sebastian’s death was indeed a tragedy. The University at Buffalo again extends its condolences to Sebastian’s family and friends as they continue to cope with his death,” the university told Fox News Digital in a statement. “UB suspended the chapter of Sigma Pi immediately after Sebastian died. The chapter no longer exists at the university. Several students were disciplined for violations of the university’s code of student conduct following the conclusion of the university’s investigation of the matter four years ago.”
UB “continues to maintain a zero-tolerance policy regarding hazing and aggressively pursues any violations of this policy,” the statement continued. “Hazing is inconsistent with the values of the university and, as such, the university has established policies to deter these behaviors and enact appropriate disciplinary action when needed.”