FLORENCE - A jury has awarded nearly $1.6 million to a pledge who says he was badly beaten during a fraternity hazing at Francis Marion University in Florence.
Attorney Mullins McLeod says a jury on Thursday awarded $600,000 in actual damages and $1 million in punitive damages to his client, former student Daniel McElveen.
The hazing took place at the home of Maurice Robinson, an alumnus and fraternity member.
At trial the Robinson argued he was not responsible and that the McElveen was responsible for allowing himself to be hazed and beaten, according to a release from McLeod.
"The jury rejected the idea that victims are to blame in hazing cases," McLeod said in a statement Friday. "I hope their verdict makes college students think twice before they brutally, physically haze innocent students. Hazing and bullying has no place in our schools or universities."
McElveen was pledging a fraternity in 2011 when he says he was paddled so badly that he suffered kidney damage.
"Hazing is an injustice to all of us and I hope my case raises awareness about hazing and prevents others from being victimized," McElveen said in a statement.
Robinson and several others were charged with hazing, and that case is still pending.
McElveen sued Robinson, the school and Phi Beta Sigma.
The award was separate from a settlement the school reached with McElveen last year, when the university was released from the suit. In that settlement, the state insurance reserve fund paid McElveen $15,000, said Tucker Mitchell, executive director of public affairs for the university.
That figure equates to roughly a year's tuition; McElveen has approximately a year left at the school, Mitchell said, and the school agreed to readmit him by the fall 2014 semester.
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