During the night of Sept. 27, 2016, Zingale became so intoxicated he could not take care of himself, so fraternity members put him to bed wearing a backpack to keep him from rolling onto his back and dying of asphyxiation, according to the suit. The next morning, Zingale was found alone, unconscious, unresponsive and barely breathing as a result of alcohol poisoning. When the ambulance arrived, Zingale was on the floor, foaming at the mouth and cold to the touch. When he arrived at the hospital, 10 hours after he had been drinking, his blood alcohol content was .41, more than 20 times the legal limit for driving under the influence as a minor, according to the suit.
Zingale, who was 18 at the time, was within the range of alcohol poisoning that can lead to death. He was diagnosed with damage to his nerves and brain and acute respiratory failure. After investigating the incident, MU officials found that active members of the fraternity were “encouraging or forcing” the pledges to take exaggerated drinks of vodka, according to the suit. Pledges were also made to fight each other.
Zingale’s lawyers said he wants his experience to help change fraternities’ reckless behavior, according to a statement the Associated Press received from his attorney.
“This brave young man hopes his action will help deter fraternities from reckless alcohol hazing and universities from ignoring or tolerating this recklessness,” Ken Chackes, Zingale’s attorney in St. Louis, said in a statement. “He hopes to hold this fraternity responsible for its irresponsible behavior that almost cost him his life.”