SHERMAN OAKS—One year after their son, died when a hazing ritual went wrong, the parents of CSU Northridge student Armando Villa are suing both Cal State University-Northridge and the fraternity for negligence.
The negligence suit was filed by Maria and Joseph Serrato in Los Angeles Superior Court after they failed to receive information about their son a year after his death. In a statement, Joseph Serrato commented, “It’s been a year since Armando’s death and we still have no answers. No one has stepped forward to tell us what happened to my son. I am angry and terribly sad.”
California State University Northridge, the fraternity their son was pledging for, Pi Kappa Phi, and some individual fraternity members are currently all defendants. The Serratos are seeking unspecified damages.
On July 1, 2014, Villa died of dehydration while hiking through the Angeles National Forest as part of a fraternity pledge for Pi Kappa Phi. Villa lost consciousness and collapsed after the hikers ran out of water near Big Tujunga Station off of Vogel Flat Road. He and a fellow hiker left the group to go find more water. According to the lawsuit, the hike was the last hazing ritual before the pledges were accepted into Pi Kappa Phi.
Douglas Aberle, the Serratos’ attorney, reported to the Los Angeles Times that the national fraternity organization and CSUN were both warned about the fraternity’s engagement in inappropriate behavior before Villa’s death.
A CSUN spokesperson released a statement that the school has not received the lawsuit papers, and thus was unable to comment. The statement claims the school conducted an independent investigation of Villa’s death: “The investigation revealed that during the pledge process, members of Pi Kappa Phi engaged in hazing in violation of the CSU Student Conduct Code and CSUN’s Code of Ethics for University Recognized Student Clubs and Organizations. CSUN had no knowledge of Pi Kappa Phi’s actions.”