A jury awarded $1.6 million to a former Francis Marion University student Thursday after he said he was beaten so badly during a fraternity hazing incident that he had to be hospitalized.
A Florence County jury returned a verdict in favor of Daniel McElveen, according to a release from the McLeod Law Group. McElveen testified that he was repeatedly beaten during the Phi Beta Sigma “Hell Night” initiation process on October 22, 2011. Florence County Sheriff’s deputies arrested nine men at the time for repeatedly hitting McElveen with a paddle so severely that he suffered acute renal failure.
Francis Marion suspended the fraternity and three students after the arrests.
McElveen sued FMU alum and high school teacher Maurice Robinson for his role in the incident. Deputies said Robinson owned the off-campus home where “Hell Night” occurred and acted as a leader at the fraternity. During the trial, Robinson argued McElveen had consented to the beating in order to join the organization. But McElveen’s lead attorney Mullins McLeod argued hazing is not a consensual act, but occurs because “perpetrators hold power and control over the victims.”
The jury reached a verdict of $600,000 in actual damages and $1 million in punitive damages against Robinson.