The family of a student who died in an alcohol-fueled hazing ritual says a $6.1 million settlement could help them end the practice on campus.

Max Gruver had been a student at Louisiana State University for a month in 2017 when he died of alcohol poisoning and aspiration after a hazy ritual on Phi Delta Theta fraternity house.

A court was told how the 18-year-old from Roswell, Georgia, took part in the ritual which required promises to take three to five second chuggs from a bottle of booze called Diesel.

An autopsy found Gruver had a blood-alcohol content of 0.495 percent, more than six times the legal driving limit in the state.

Gruver’s parents, Rae Ann and Stephen Gruver, were in court in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, last week when the verdict was returned.

One of the family’s lawyers, Don Cazayoux, says it strengthens the family’s campaign against hazing.

“The first message is, don’t do it because you might hurt someone, you might kill someone,” Mr Cazayoux told NBC News.

Gruver’s parents had already reached confidential settlements with LSU, the Phi Delta Theta fraternity and at least 10 other fraternity members.

Stephen and Rae Ann Gruver with a photo of their son, Max, in a House committee room in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in 2018


In 2019, Matthew Naquin, of Fair Oaks Ranch, Texas, was convicted of negligent homicide and sentenced to five years in prison. A judge suspended all but two and a half years.

Ryan Isto and another fraternity member, Sean Paul Gott, pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge in the criminal case and were sentenced to 30 days in jail.

“While the verdict does not — and never can — repair that loss, it is another important step in our mission to end hazing,” the family told The New York Times in a statement.

“We are grateful that the jury understood that Max and his pledge brothers had no real choice and were not at fault for the hell they endured. And, significantly, through their verdict, the jury established that merely being a bystander to hazing exempts a fraternity member from responsibility.”