Originally published on Feb. 3, 2022
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (WCCO) – A newly filed civil lawsuit in Boone County, Missouri, claims an Eden Prairie teen was forced to drink an entire bottle of vodka before falling into a coma last October.
Danny Santulli a 2021 graduate of Eden Prairie High School, was allegedly subjected to the drinking during a fraternity event at Phi Gamma Delta at the University of Missouri, where he was a freshman.
According to the 52-page lawsuit filed by Miami-based attorney David Bianchi, Santulli eventually lost consciousness before a member of the fraternity drove him to a nearby hospital. There, emergency staff restarted his heart and put him on a ventilator. At the time, his blood alcohol content was .468.
While he has since woken up, Bianchi says the teenager is still unable to speak.
"For some reason, these things always seem to happen to the best kids," Bianchi said. "I don't understand why – he was a wonderful young man."
Bianchi says the suit seeks an undisclosed amount of damages to cover Santulli's ongoing medical costs.
The suit names more than 20 defendants, including more than a dozen students who were members of the fraternity at the time.
"It's our intention to hold every single one of these guys accountable for what they did, because every single one of them played some role in this," the attorney said.
"Whether they were actively participating in getting him the alcohol, which they knew they weren't supposed to do, or not helping him when they should have helped him, or not doing what they were required to do as officers of the fraternity, which is to make sure this even didn't happen in the first place."
University of Missouri Police Department says a criminal investigation into the fraternity members' actions is ongoing. Meanwhile, the Phi Gamma Delta chapter on campus is suspended.
"We have received the civil complaint and are reviewing it," wrote Phi Gamma Delta's national Executive Director Rob Caudill in a statement. "The chapter at the University of Missouri is suspended by the International Fraternity and we continue to provide support and cooperation when requested by local authorities as they pursue their investigation. We expect all chapters and members to follow the law and abide by the Fraternity's policies which prohibit hazing and the provision of alcohol to minors."
"People just need to just stand up and say, 'You know what, we're not gonna stand for this anymore,'" said Bianchi, who has represented a number of victims in hazing cases throughout the country. "This has got to stop. It won't stop until the community makes it stop and demands it stops."
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