The parents of Ryan Abele, the Sigma Nu pledge that died in October after falling down a staircase at the fraternity’s house, filed a lawsuit against the Delta Xi chapter on Friday, June 2.

The family is suing for $10,000 in expenses and damages on the grounds of negligence, violation of alcohol consumption laws and the dangerous condition of the stairway in the fraternity house that Abele fell down.

There was a ceremony the night before Abele’s death at the fraternity house where pledges were assigned their “Big” and their fraternity “family”. According to an investigation by the University of Nevada, Reno, alcohol and marijuana were consumed illegally at the ceremony.

The pledges were woken up around 5:45 a.m. the next morning to clean the house. The lawsuit states Abele was still intoxicated when he fell down the stairs while cleaning. When he was admitted to the hospital at 7 a.m., he had a blood alcohol level of .3, according to a UNR Police report obtained by the Reno Gazette-Journal.

The lawsuit also states that members of the fraternity were given a pledge manual for the 2016 new members, which states,“I will not not physically, psychologically or sexually abuse or haze any human being.” There is also a part of the manual that states that members cannot misuse drugs or alcohol.

Abele’s parents named members of the Sigma Nu fraternity in the lawsuit they believe knew that drinking and hazing were part of the fraternity rituals, and therefore knew the statements in the manual were false.

Members named in the lawsuit held leadership positions, and include Abele’s Big, Eric Medina, and the chapter advisor, Kyle Bryce.

Abele passed away 12 days after his fall when his parents decided to pull him off life support and donate his organs. The national chapter of Sigma Nu revoked the charter of the Delta Xi chapter in January after UNR banned the fraternity from campus for 15 years in December.

Abele was 18-years-old when he died.

Check the Nevada Sagebrush for more updates as they develop.


Madeline Purdue can be reached at and on Twitter @madelinepurdue.