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Family of Stone Foltz settles wrongful death lawsuit against BGSU

The $2.9 million settlement is the largest sum paid out by a public Ohio university in a hazing case.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The parents of Stone Foltz and their attorney announced Monday that they have reached a record $2.9 million settlement with Bowling Green State University regarding the 2021 hazing death of their son.

In a joint statement, BGSU and the Foltz family said Stone's death would remain an important part of anti-hazing efforts for years to come.

“The Foltz family and Bowling Green State University are forever impacted by the tragic death of Stone Foltz. This resolution keeps the Foltz family and BGSU community from reliving the tragedy for years to come in the courtroom and allows us to focus on furthering our shared mission of eradicating hazing in Ohio and across the nation. Leading these efforts in our communities is the real work that honors Stone.”

Shari and Cory Foltz conducted a news conference at 11 a.m. in Columbus with their attorney Rex Elliott. The family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the school in June 2022, claiming it was responsible for Foltz's March 7, 2021, hazing death after he attended an event and an off-campus fraternity house.

Shari Foltz said the settlement will assist the Stone Foltz Foundation's efforts to stop hazing on college campuses.

"The money has nothing that means anything to us because it's not going to bring Stone back," she said. "But it does allow us to move forward and help the foundation to continue the education piece and teach the students, community and parents about hazing. And we can continue our fight to save lives."

Foltz's blood alcohol content was 0.394 percent, according to his family, who have stated it was likely higher immediately after he attended the Pi Kappa Alpha event.

The $2.9 million sum is the largest payout by a public university in a hazing case in Ohio history. In August, BGSU said the lawsuit had no merit and was a "misguided attempt" to blame the university for all instances of hazing.

"From Day 1, we've always wanted the same thing as Bowling Green: to eradicate hazing across the country," Cory Foltz said. "I strongly believe going forward we can work with Bowling Green, and Bowling Green will be on the of the first universities to take the big step of eliminating hazing across this country."

The Foltz family has also settled lawsuits against the national Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity and 18 other individuals for a total of $7,217,000, according to court records. 

Elliott mentioned multiple times that he believes BGSU is committed to preventing hazing and working with the Foltz family to ensure other families don't lose a loved one.

Elliott said BGSU President Rodney Rogers was in his office just days after Foltz died.

"These [BGSU] administrators are good people and they took it personally," Elliott said. "I believe they are fully committed to joining us in putting a stop to this. First on their campus, but I think their interest is having no college having to experience what they have and no family having to experience what the Foltz family has."

Elliott also called for colleges and Greek organizations to end the practice of pledge programs in Ohio. He said Greek Life provides several positives for students, but it "will not survive" if hazing doesn't come to an end.

Shari Foltz said she thinks Stone would have a smile on his face today.

"I think he would be proud of us," Shari said. "[But] there's never going to be any closure. Nothing is going to bring Stone back and that piece of our heart will never be there again."

Foltz's death

Foltz, 20, was at a Pi Kappa Alpha, or PIKE, new-member initiation on March 4, 2021, at which new members, known as "littles" and who were almost all underage, received "bigs" or mentors, who allegedly gave their littles high alcohol content liquor and instructed them to drink the whole bottle. 

Foltz allegedly drank all or nearly all of the bottle given to him before he was dropped off at his apartment. Foltz was found by his roommate and other friends, who called 911.

The roommate performed CPR until EMS arrived. Foltz was taken to the Wood County Hospital and later to Toledo Hospital, where he died March 7. 

The coroner said Foltz died of fatal ethanol intoxication.

BGSU investigation

In April 2021, BGSU permanently banned PIKE from campus after the fraternity was found to have engaged in a pattern of hazing over a number of years.

BGSU administrators expelled three students and suspended 18 others after Stone's death.

Criminal cases

Eight defendants faced charges in Foltz's death. Two former Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity brothers -- Jacob Krinn and Troy Henricksen -- went on trial in May, 2022.

A jury convicted Krinn of hazing, furnishing alcohol to an underage person and obstructing justice. Henricksen was convicted of eight counts of hazing and seven counts of furnishing alcohol to an underage person. 

The former fraternity brothers were acquitted of the most serious charges they faced in connection with Foltz's death.

Wood County Common Pleas Court Judge Joel Kuhlman sentenced Krinn and Henricksen each to 42 days in jail and 28 days of house arrest to follow their jail terms. Both men also were sentenced to two years probation and 100 hours of community service. Their jail sentences began immediately Wednesday.

Six other defendants pleaded guilty to lesser charges before going to trial. They were:

Daylen Dunson, 21, of Cleveland; Canyon Caldwell, 21, of Dublin; Jarrett Prizel, 19, of Olean, N.Y.; Niall Sweeney, 21, of Erie, Penn.; Aaron Lehane, 21, of Loveland; and Benjamin Boyers, 21, of Sylvania.    

Collin's Law

In July 2021, Gov. Mike DeWine signed Collin's Law, a new anti-hazing law aimed at making the state's college campuses safer.

The law was named after Collin Wiant, a freshman who died from hazing at a Greek event at Ohio University in 2018. The bill, which was not approved by Ohio's General Assembly when it was first introduced, was reintroduced in the wake of Foltz's 2021 death.

The legislation elevated general hazing to a second-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 90 days in jail. Aggravated hazing, which causes serious physical harm or death, became a third-degree felony under the new law.

The bill also requires staff and students to report hazing they witness. If they don't, they could also face criminal charges.


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