'He lit up a room': Fraternity hazing puts 19-year-old student into coma, family's lawsuit claims

'That's not brotherhood': Lawsuit alleges fraternity member drove Ben Brennan to hospital, dumped his lifeless body

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Sunday, April 9, 2023
Fraternity hazing puts 19-year-old student into coma, family says
The family of former San Diego State University student Ben Brennan has filed a lawsuit over alleged Kappa Sigma fraternity hazing.

SAN DIEGO, Calif. -- A former student at San Diego State University said a night of hazing put him in a coma, and his life has never been the same.

Benjamin Brennan's family filed a lawsuit against an off-campus fraternity and nine of its members, saying their freshman teen nearly died during a hazing incident.

"Pre-incident, Ben was everyone's favorite guy. He lit up a room," said his sister, Kaitlin Brennan. "Now, it feels like we're getting to know a new Ben."

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According to the lawsuit from Ben's family, two years ago, when he was pledging Kappa Sigma fraternity, which the university said it expelled last year, frat members forced him to consume drugs and hard alcohol in amounts that would literally kill most people.

"There was a 750 ml bottle of Captain Morgan rum. He was instructed, he was commanded to drink it all. And, they provided tobacco and marijuana, and he was supposed to consume that as well," said James P. Frantz, the family's lawyer.

The lawsuit alleges that a fraternity member then drove Ben to a nearby hospital and dumped his lifeless body while attempting to avoid responsibility.

"These boys just abandoned their brother and left him for dead. That's not brotherhood," said Ben's mother, Lindsay Gibson.

The 19-year-old student was in a coma. Two years later, Ben is still recovering.

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"He can't work, and we don't know if he'll be able to. He can't go back to school now. All those types of damages, and all the emotional distress damages he's going to suffer," said Frantz.

Just two years prior to Ben's incident at the same university, Dylan Hernandez fell out of the top of a bunk bed in his campus dorm room, hit his head and later died. He had been heavily drinking at another fraternity.

The Brennans said Ben is facing an uncertain future.

"Greek life is a big part of college experience. But, I want to caution families to have a long, thoughtful, serious conversation before your son joins that type of community, because you might think, 'Oh, not my son. My son's too smart. And, that's exactly what I told myself, and I'm lucky that he's alive," Gibson said.