The family of Tucker Hipps has settled lawsuits that were filed against Clemson University, Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity and several fraternity members involving the student’s death in 2014. Documents from mediation in the case were released electronically by the Pickens County Courthouse. The Alternative Dispute Resolution report dated July 28, 2017, shows that the mediation resulted in the case being considered “fully settled.” The confidential settlement amount has to be approved by a judge of the court.
Tucker Hipps, a 19-year-old Clemson University sophomore and fraternity pledge, was found dead near a bridge on Lake Hartwell hours after going on a run with about 30 members of the fraternity on Sept. 22, 2014. The student’s parents, Cindy and Gary Hipps, filed a wrongful death lawsuit and also a survival action in March 2015. The two cases were consolidated earlier this year.
It was alleged in the lawsuits filed by his parents that the early morning run was organized by the three fraternity leaders who were named in the lawsuit. Hipps was forced to walk a narrow railing on the bridge over Lake Hartwell by members of the fraternity after he failed to bring breakfast for his fraternity brothers before the run. The student died of head injuries that the Oconee County Coroner said were consistent with having hit his head on rocks in shallow water below the bridge.
Fraternity members denied seeing Hipps fall, and the university and local and national chapters of the fraternity denied responsibility for his death. Druanne White, an Anderson lawyer, represented the family.
I believe that colleges and all fraternities and sororities on campuses have a legal and moral obligation to make as sure that physical and emotional abuse of “pledges” is stopped. There is absolutely no excuse for allowing what happened to this Clemson student to be a recognized way of life on any college campus. Parents should demand that those in charge of our colleges take a stand on this issue.
— Jere Beasley, Founding Attorney