Tragic Hazing Incident Prompts Change from Legislation
A couple who lost their son following a hazing incident at Penn State University in 2017 has been fighting to have legislation passed in their home state of New Jersey regarding hazing. Their work is starting to pay off as the New Jersey legislature is moving closer to making hazing a felony, which is the goal of the couple.
Earlier in September, the New Jersey Senate Judiciary Committee passed S-3150, which is known as Timothy J. Piazza’s Law, named after the couple’s son who died in a hazing incident at Penn State. The legislation now moves to the Senate for a full vote. If the legislation passes, it would upgrade every grade of hazing to a felony. The new legislation also helps to clarify the conduct that is prohibited. This conduct includes coercing, causing or forcing someone to consume drugs or alcohol.
Piazza’s father, Jim, testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee before they voted on the legislation, stating the following:
“The hazing law is a necessary thing. Hazing is occurring way too often in colleges, high schools and middle schools and people are dying.”
The vote passed 8-0. The only member of the committee who wasn’t present was Senator Troy Singleton of Burlington. He did not vote in absentia because he was chairing a different committee at the same time in another part of the Annex. Singleton introduced his own legislation regarding bullying, S-3628. This legislation requests that anti-hazing policies are adopted at high schools, colleges, and middle schools.
The Piazza Law
If the Piazza Law were to pass, it would increase the crime of hazing to a crime of the fourth degree. Aggravated hazing would be increased to a third-degree crime. Under the current law, a crime only reaches aggravated hazing when serious bodily injury occurs to the victim.
“We’re trying to stiffen the penalties for hazing because we want to prevent the tragedy that happened at Penn State in 2017 to Tim,” Senator Christopher “Kip” Bateman, of Somerset, said in an interview. Bateman was the primary sponsor of the legislation.
“He was a great athlete and a great student. It was irresponsible what happened at the frat house, and we need to have stronger penalties to deter this from happening again because it’s happening all over the country.”
Circumstances Surrounding Piazza’s Death
Piazza was coerced into consuming 18 alcoholic beverages in a span of 90 minutes on February 2, 2017. Piazza passed away two days after the incident. Piazza was involved in a hazing incident at the Beta Theta Pi fraternity house near the Penn State campus. Piazza was a native of Readington, New Jersey. Legislation passed in October and signed into law by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf on October 19, 2018 is similar to the legislation headed to the New Jersey Senate for a full vote.
Contact a Cherry Hill Personal Injury Lawyer to Discuss Your Victim of Hazing Case in New Jersey
Did you or a loved one sustain serious injuries due to hazing in New Jersey? Don’t let the medical bills pile up while you wait for the negligent party or their insurance company to do the right thing. Right now, you need an aggressive personal injury attorney on your side, fighting to get you the compensation you need, want, and deserve. The skilled attorneys at the Marrone Law Firm, LLC represent clients injured because of hazing in Cherry Hill and throughout New Jersey as well as Pennsylvania. Call 856-489-7757 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation about your case. We have an office conveniently located at 532 Marlton Pike West in Cherry Hill, NJ 08002, as well as offices in Philadelphia, PA.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.
Learn more about this topic in our white paper: