Fraternity brothers liable for pledge's swimming death

Montgomery bent his head to his knees. After the judge left the courtroom, Montgomery stood and lunged at David Bianchi, the attorney representing Meredith’s parents. Defense attorneys and a bailiff restrained Montgomery.

Meredith’s parents hugged and cried after hearing the verdict. “There were no jumps for joy or elation; there was some relief,” Bianchi said. “These parents are devastated that they lost their youngest son.” Defense attorneys argued that Meredith — who had a blood alcohol level of 0.13 and was legally drunk when he drowned — was responsible for his own actions. “This was a case unprecedented in Florida,” defense attorney Donald Hardemon, who represented Montgomery, told The Associated Press. “There is no law in Florida making fraternities liable in hazing cases.” The defendants said they would appeal.

Bianchi said he would try to collect the money for the Meredith family by tapping a $20 million insurance policy held by the Virginia-based national headquarters of Kappa Sigma. The homeowners policies of the parents of the two fraternity brothers also could be tapped. Montgomery’s parents have a policy with a $300,000 cap, and May’s family policy has a $500,000 cap, Bianchi said.
“This was never about the money,” Bianchi said. “Chad’s parents wanted a jury to hear the facts, wanted the people who were there that night to testify under oath. They wanted to learn the truth about their son’s death. “Chad shouldn’t have died. They abandoned him instead of trying to help him. He tried to save himself and got within 34 feet of the shore. He drowned in six feet nine inches of water.”

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