COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The family of a student who died in a hazing incident in 2021 and the university he was attending have reached a nearly $3 million settlement that attorneys for the family said is the largest payout in a hazing case in Ohio history.
On March 4, 2021, Stone Foltz, 20, of Delaware, Ohio, was a pledge of the Delta Beta Chapter of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity at Bowling Green State University when he drank a one-liter bottle of Evan Williams 86-proof bourbon. Foltz, who attended Buckeye Valley High School, was then taken to his apartment where he was left unconscious. He died three days later after being placed on life support.
The Foltz family filed a lawsuit in June 2022 seeking a minimum of $50,000 in damages, the minimum required to file the suit; however, the court filing said the family would likely see “substantially more” had the case gone to trial.
Foltz’s parents, Shari and Cory Foltz, and their lawyer, Rex Elliott, announced the settlement would be in the amount of $2.9 million. In comparison, as of July 2022, Ohio State University has paid out more than $60 million to nearly 300 survivors of former university physician Richard Strauss, who is accused of sexually abusing hundreds of student athletes during his employment.
That makes for an average settlement of $250,000.
You can watch a press conference above where Stone’s parents and their attorney discuss the settlement reached.
“Our goal is to eradicate hazing to make sure no family goes through this again,” said Elliott. “Hazing and pledge programs are a relic of the past.”
“There is never going to be any closure,” said Shari Foltz. “Nothing is ever going to bring Stone back.”
The Foltz family and BGSU released a joint statement Monday on the settlement. It reads: “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.”
In August of 2022, the last two of eight defendants charged in Foltz’s death were sentenced. None of the eight men sentenced received more than 42 days in jail and were given various amounts of up to three years probation.
Since Foltz’s death, the family has formed the iamstonefoltz Foundation, which is focused on stopping and raising awareness of hazing on college campuses. Elliott said the settlement will continue to allow the foundation to continue its efforts.
“I think he’d be very happy to hear we are caring for other parents’ children,” said Cory Foltz on what Stone would say to them now. The foundation’s efforts will also focus on high schools. “We think it’s important to get it into the high schools,” said Shari Foltz. “We need to teach them about peer pressure and belonging, we need to give them a sense of how to handle that before they go off to college and have their own responsibilities.”