Indiana State University Freshman, Yiorgo Karnezis, Fatally Falls From Boat at Sigma Chi Fraternity Event

School Violence Law extends our deepest sympathies to the family of Yiorgo Karnezis.

Yiorgo Karnezis, Indiana State University, Sigma Chi Fraternity

Friends, family, and the Sycamore community gather to celebrate Karnezis’ life with a candlelight vigil.

Yiorgo Karnezis – the Indiana State University freshman who lost his life after falling from a boat at a Sigma Chi fraternity event in Illinois – was celebrated by family, friends, and community at a candle light vigil in Sycamore, Indiana. 

Douglas Fierberg – a nationally renowned wrongful death attorney who has brought suit against universities, national fraternities, and local chapter members for student deaths – cautions:

“Even if a party is held at an off-campus location, the hosts and the organization may still be liable.”

School Violence Law specializes in representing victims of similar tragedies associated with fraternities, as such, our hope is that the Karnezis family finds answers related to how this terrible loss transpired.

Our thoughts are with Yiorgo’s family and community during this extremely difficult time.

National Hazing Prevention Week

September is National Campus Safety Awareness Month (NCSAM).

NCSAM received the unanimous support of congress in 2008. Each September, the Clery Center partners with colleges, universities, and other organizations to offer campus safety resources, programming, and ideas.

Although headlines capture the best- and worst- of the field, there’s one thing the Clery Center knows to be true: people don’t function well in fear; individuals make the best decisions when they are informed, offered support, and are confident in their knowledge and skills.

Keeping this in mind, the Clery Center is continuing its practice of dedicating National Campus Safety Awareness month to providing professional development resources and opportunities that can help practitioners move forward on their own campuses.

In accordance with National Hazing Prevention Week, the Clery Center is featuring resources (below) for general audiences (students, parents, etc.) who wish to understand and communicate effectively about hazing, and learn strategies for bystander intervention.

Show the Clery Center what you’re doing for #NCSAM2016 and let’s continue #movingforwardtogether!

School Violence Law Represents Georgia High School Student Suspended After Reporting Her Sexual Assault

Title IX Complaint filed due to school district’s gross mishandling of sexual assault on a freshman student.gwinnett county public schools, slate, sexual assault, high school sexual assault

The assault our client endured, and the school administration’s reaction thereafter, is chronicled by Slate contributor Nora Caplan-Bricker, in a piece entitled, My School Punished Me.”

In the gripping article (below) Caplan-Bricker discusses the complaint itself while simultaneously casting a spotlight on the larger issue of sexual assault and Title IX mismanagement occurring all too frequently in K-12 schools across the nation.

Peachtree Ridge High School is a low-slung concrete building in Suwanee, Georgia, an affluent suburb north of Atlanta. School had just gotten out on Feb. 4, 2015, and a 16-year-old sophomore was waiting just inside the main entrance for her mother to pick her up, she says, when a male classmate approached and said he wanted to show her some video equipment. She says that she followed him into the school’s newsroom, just down the hall, where he allegedly coerced her into performing oral sex.

The next morning, the female student did something unusual for a sexual assault victim: She went straight to her first-period teacher and, in tears, reported the incident. (Since both parties are minors whose names have never appeared in the press, Slate is protecting their privacy and will refer to the alleged victim by her initials, T.M.) What followed was at least as disturbing as the event she detailed, according to a legal complaint that T.M.’s family submitted to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.

The Peachtree Ridge resource officer who first questioned T.M. set the tenor of the school’s investigation when he asked her to describe what she was wearing at the time of the assault, according to the complaint, which the family’s lawyers provided to Slate. The complaint says the officer also requested that she explain why she didn’t fight off her assailant: “Why didn’t you bite his penis and squeeze his balls?” he allegedly asked. (The resource officer did not respond to a request for comment, nor did other school administrators named in the complaint, or the two teachers to whom T.M. originally reported the incident.)

The complaint states that within days, T.M. and her parents were informed that she would be suspended, as would the boy, until the school could conduct a joint disciplinary hearing. There, she and the alleged perpetrator, or their legal representatives, would cross-examine each other. If T.M. couldn’t prove that what she’d experienced was assault, she would be disciplined along with the boy for engaging in sexual activity on school grounds, a violation of Peachtree’s rules.

“We begged and pleaded with the superintendent to hold the hearing for each one separately, so that it would be less traumatizing,” T.M.’s father told me. “We even considered not having her attend at all.” But not showing up would have resulted in an automatic finding of guilt. They weighed “the moral thing of what’s right—is it right to let that boy get away with it? Is it right to not try to hold the school accountable?” T.M.’s father says. “In the end, we decided, and [T.M.] decided, that she wanted to try to stand up for herself. Of course, that did no good whatsoever.”

“I really wish my school would have helped me instead of looking out for itself,” T.M. wrote to me in a statement. “The school took advantage of me, and that wasn’t fair. … The school should have pulled my attacker out of school and put him somewhere else, far away from me.”

Lawsuit Filed on Behalf of Ooltewah High School Rape Victim

School Violence Law filed suit on behalf of the Ooltewah High School Rape Victim who was sodomized with a pool-cue by teammates.

The lawsuit, as reported by the Times Free Press, was filed in Federal court today, stating that district administrators and school employees knew a culture of abuse had been taking place for years, “and their failure to remediate this rampant abuse resulted in escalation of male student athlete’s harassment, hazing, and assaults of teammates.”

Our client’s (referred to as John Doe in the lawsuit) Title IX rights were violated, as the defendants knew violence and gender-based hazing was taking place and “created a climate in which such misconduct was tolerated, thus encouraging continued and repeated misconduct and proximately causing injury to John.

The Hamilton County Board of Education, former Ooltewah High School Principal Jim Jarvis, the school’s former Athletic Director Allard “Jesse” Nayadley and former boy’s head basketball coach Andre “Tank” Montgomery, were “reckless, grossly negligent and deliberately indifferent to the health, safety and welfare of the [victim].”

Attorneys for the victim, Douglas Fierberg and Monica Beck , along with co-counsel Eddie Schmidt, argue the Ooltewah High School Board failed to “exercise reasonable care to supervise and protect our client, and that Jarvis, Nayadley and Mongtomery’s negligent actions provided legal grounds to remove the board’s immunity.”

“Schools are required by federal and state law to prohibit violent hazing and gender-based violence,” Monica Beck said in a written statement to the Times Free Press. “This young man had a right to participate on the basketball team without sacrificing his physical and emotional safety to hazing traditions long known and tolerated by school officials.”

  • Our Ethic

    Our Ethic

    More than 20 years ago, Doug Fierberg was the first lawyer to exclusively represent victims of school violence nationwide. As his legal team has grown, we have always believed that giving back is essential. Thus, our lawyers – for no fee - have compelled wrongdoers to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation to non-profit organizations whose missions are to eliminate hazing, sexual assault, binge drinking, and other violence from schools.

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  • Fraternity Victims

    Fraternity Victims

    "Fierberg is a man of obvious and deep intelligence, comfortable - in the way of alpha-male litigators - with sharply correcting a fuzzy thought; with using obscenities; with speaking derisively, even contemptuously, of opponents. He is also the man I would run to as though my hair were on fire if I ever found myself in a legal battle with a fraternity, and so should you." - Caitlin Flanagan, The Atlantic

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  • School Rape

    School Rape

    The litigation experience of Doug Fierberg paired with the national Title IX movement expertise of Cari Simon make us uniquely effective advocates for people who have suffered rape or sexual assault in schools and universities.

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  • Trial Attorneys

    Trial Attorneys

    Federal and state courts across the country have admitted Mr. Fierberg to practice before them to serve as lead trial counsel for wrongful death, hazing, sexual assault and catastrophic personal injury cases, including cases filed in Alabama, Arizona, California, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Virginia, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Indiana, Texas, Mississippi, Nevada, Maryland, District of Columbia, and Ohio.

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"Doug Fierberg, Cari Simon, and their team are passionate about achieving justice for their clients. They treated me with respect and great reverence for the trauma that I faced. They were genuinely interested in my well being as a survivor. Throughout all steps of the process, they believed in me and encouraged me. They are true advocates for their clients. I am forever grateful for all that they have done for me. Their diligent work ethic and desire to lessen the burden on survivors has created a renewed hope for me as a survivor. My experience with Doug and Cari has even prompted me to apply for law school so that one day I might also be able to help survivors fight these injustices."
- Jane Doe, Georgia

Talk to Us: Face-to-Face

Our clients have traveled paths that may be similar to the one you are presently on. They have valuable insights they are willing to share (including, of course, regarding our work). Many clients have become strong advocates, as a matter of necessity. Please feel free to inquire about this, and, where appropriate, we will gladly connect you to them, as they too are committed to offering their help and unique insight.

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