U.S. News

Ex-Baruch College fraternity member settles suit on hazing death

STROUDSBURG, Pa. (Reuters) - A Pennsylvania judge on Wednesday approved a $300,000 settlement in a civil suit related to the death of a Baruch College freshman during an alleged fraternity hazing ritual in 2013.

The settlement is the first in a lawsuit brought by the family of Michael Deng, 19, who died of head injuries suffered in what the family called a violent hazing incident involving members of the Pi Delta Psi fraternity.

The injuries occurred in a rented house in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains, about 96 miles west of New York City, where Baruch College’s campus is located.

Sheldon Wong, who is one of five former members of the fraternity awaiting trial on third-degree murder charges, is the first of eight people sued by Deng’s family to settle.

“Apparently he and his counsel wanted to step up and do right by the family,” said Douglas Fierberg, an attorney for Deng’s parents, Mary Liu Deng and Qing Yuan Deng.

Attorneys for Wong were not present at the brief hearing where Judge Arthur Zulick in Monroe County Court of Common Pleas approved the settlement. They could not be reached for comment.

Deng was the only child of his China-born parents. A nationally competitive handball player, he died of head injuries sustained during a ritual that his Pi Delta Psi fraternity called the “glass ceiling.”

The ordeal required new fraternity members to run blindfolded while carrying a 30-pound pack while older members pummeled them and knocked them down.

Fraternity members allegedly waited several hours to take Deng to a hospital while they organized a cover-up.

Authorities charged 37 members of the fraternity with various offenses. Wong, who told police he observed the hazing but did not participate, was among five defendants charged with third-degree murder, carrying a potential 10-year prison term.

Andy Meng, the former national president of Pi Delta Psi and the brother of U.S. Representative Grace Meng of Queens, is slated for trial in December on charges he led the cover-up.

District Attorney David Christine said Wong and the other murder defendants will likely face trial in March.

Editing by Scott Malone and Bill Rigby