For the 2014 homecoming game, the Florida International University Panthers faced the Thundering Herd from West Virginia's Marshall University. FIU students and alumni decked in blue and gold flocked to the stadium tailgate area to start the celebration. Beer flowed. Music blasted. Then, in the midst of the revelry, a Sigma Chi frat bro bit off a guy's ear.
The homecoming attack is spelled out in a lawsuit filed October 17 in Miami-Dade Circuit Court. A Miami man named Adrian Ortuno says that after being invited to party at the Sigma Chi tailgate, one of its members kicked him, punched him, and pushed him to the ground.
“During the vicious attack, the attacker bit off a large portion of plaintiff Adrian Ortuno’s right ear," his complaint says. Ortuno has now sued the Sigma Chi Corporation, its Lambda Iota chapter at FIU, the university's board of trustees, and Miami-Dade County, saying those organizations failed to provide proper security for the tailgate.
Ortuno's attorney, Charles Mustell, did not return several phone calls from New Times. Sigma Chi and Miami-Dade County both declined to address the allegations, while an FIU spokeswoman did not respond to a message seeking comment.
Mustell says FIU's tailgate area was in a crime-ridden location where people had been assaulted, robbed, shot, and even killed. Despite this, the attorney says the university, the Sigma Chi fraternity, and the county did not have a sufficient number of police officers and security guards to protect students and members of the general public. The complaint also cites a lack of security cameras in the area.
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“As a direct and proximate result… Ortuno was brutally beaten on October 18,
Mustell does not name the Sigma Chi member who allegedly attacked Ortuno, and it's not clear from the complaint if any criminal charges were filed after the attack.
Sigma Chi chapters have faced numerous accusations of misconduct lately. At the University of California at Berkeley, one was put on social probation after numerous allegations of drugging and sexual assault. Another at the University of Northern Colorado was suspended for seven years after officials confirmed what they called instances of "sexual harassment, discrimination, sexual misconduct, use/possession of controlled substances, and use/possession of alcohol by underage persons." At the University of Miami chapter the year after the FIU incident, three underage students were hospitalized after drinking too much.
As of now, none of the parties who are being sued have formally responded to the complaint.