Jury awards $6M to parents of Max Gruver

It's been more than 6 years since Stephen Gruver and his wife Rae Ann have held their son Max in their arms.
Published: Mar. 9, 2023 at 6:34 PM CST
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - It’s been more than 6 years since Stephen Gruver and his wife Rae Ann have held their son Max in their arms.

“Having to relive that night over and over is extremely emotional. It’s very difficult. It’s hard to put into words just how painful it is,” said Stephen Gruver back in 2019.

But today they can breathe a little deeper knowing their son’s wrongful death case has been put to rest, and justice has been served.

Gruver died in 2017 after consuming an enormous amount of alcohol during a fraternity pledge ritual. Prior to this week’s trial, the Gruver’s had settled all of their other civil lawsuits with the other fraternity members including their case with LSU and Phi Delta Theta.

“I hate that it even had to come to this, but it did. And this is a set of parents that took up for their son...and went a long way with it,” said District Attorney Hillar Moore.

Moore has stood close to the Gruver’s through the years. He says as unfortunate as Max’s death was, he leaves behind a legacy of prompting lawmakers to pass the Max Gruver Act in 2018 to help prevent this from happening to another parent.

“So that has changed, for sure, the landscape of hazing in Louisiana from a legal standpoint. But this family is going around the country,” added Moore.

One of the lawmakers who passed legislation around the incident was Republican Senator Franklin Foil of Baton Rouge.

“A few years back I passed a bill after this event to basically protect whistle-blowers who would come forward and report these types of incidents,” said Senator Foil.

Senator Foil says he believes the legislation in response to Max’s incident lays the groundwork for better days ahead.

“There will probably always be at least some hazing out there moving forward. So, it’s important that the university uses the tools we’ve given them to stay on top of these situations and make sure that, you know, you don’t have any hazing events in the future,” Senator Foil continued.

The jury awarded $6 million for the loss Max’s parents suffered and an additional $100,000 for Max’s suffering while being hazed and in the final moments leading to his death. LSU will pay out $875,000.

The family says they will continue to honor their son by educating young men and women on the dangers and consequences of hazing. Max’s father, Stephen, says kids should receive education about hazing before they head to college.

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