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UCI, fraternity are sued over 2005 death of pledge

Times Staff Writer

The family of a college student who died after an alleged fraternity hazing incident two years ago has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the fraternity and UC Irvine.

Kenny Luong, 19, suffered fatal head injuries during an August 2005 football game held at a city park to initiate pledges into Lambda Phi Epsilon, a nationwide Asian fraternity.

At a news conference Tuesday, attorney Richard Cohn and two of Luong’s fellow pledges described the game as a brutal mismatch designed to inflict pain.

It pitted nine pledges, who were seeking to establish a fraternity chapter at Cal Poly Pomona, on the field at the same time against 40 Lambda Phi Epsilon members from UC Irvine.

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After two hours, all but three pledges were sidelined from the effects of being repeatedly gang-tackled, Cohn said.

Luong, weighing 144 pounds and playing quarterback, took a snap and went down under a blitz, recalled pledge Lenny Nguyen. He never got up. Several players then dragged the unconscious pledge off the field and the game continued another five or 10 minutes, Nguyen said.

After someone realized the Rosemead resident was seriously hurt, a fraternity leader halted the game and told everyone to leave, Nguyen said.

The UCI fraternity brothers scattered, but the pledges from Cal Poly stayed, Cohn said. An ambulance took Luong to Western Medical Center-Santa Ana, where he died two days later.

The fraternity chapter was quickly suspended by UCI and will officially disband this week, school officials said.

UCI officials declined to comment on the suit. Attempts to reach Lambda Phi Epsilon’s headquarters were unsuccessful.

No criminal charges were filed in the case.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages from Lambda Phi Epsilon’s national office, UCI and the UC regents.

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roy.rivenburg@latimes.com


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