The Louisiana Supreme Court has cleared the way for the trial of a long-standing lawsuit that alleged hazing activities within the Southern University marching band.
Marcus Heath and Cameron Taylor sued Southern and former student band leader Jeremy Dixon following an off-campus hazing incident in November 2008 that involved band members being hit by boards as part of an unsanctioned initiation into the band’s unofficial French horn fraternity, Mellow Phi Fellow.
Southern acknowledges the incident occurred but contends the university is not liable for Dixon’s off-campus actions. Southern also argues Dixon was not an employee of the school.
State District Judge Tim Kelley ruled in April that Southern is not liable for Dixon’s off-campus hazing activities that injured Heath and Taylor.
The state 1st Circuit Court of Appeal reversed Kelly in May, and the state Supreme Court on Friday let the appellate court ruling stand.
Corey Hebert, an attorney for Heath and Taylor, said Monday the high court’s decision means the case will go to trial Oct. 19 as scheduled.
The two former students’ attorneys also will argue at the trial that hazing in the band was rampant, and that Southern knew about it but failed to properly address the matter.
The university denies those allegations and says the school has an anti-hazing policy and that students are required to sign a no-hazing contract. Anti-hazing workshops also are held on campus, the school says.
Dixon, a former student section leader in the band, and a half-dozen other ex-Southern marching band members pleaded no contest in 2009 to charges of criminal conspiracy to commit second-degree battery, and misdemeanor hazing. They were put on probation and ordered to perform community service.