University Lays Blame for Wrongful Death on Fraternity


Clemson University doesn’t believe that they should be held accountable for the death of a student that took place during a 2014 fraternity pledge run.


Tucker Hipps was pronounced dead after he was discovered near the campus under a Lake Hartwell Bridge. Prior to finding his body, the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity Hibbs was pledging reported that he was missing. After his autopsy, the corner ruled the cause of death to have been the head injuries the boy sustained, injuries that most likely happened when he fell from the bridge.

Two separate, $25 million lawsuits pertaining to this case, one a wrongful death lawsuit while the other is a personal injury lawsuit, have been filed. In the first, it was written that Hipps argued with a frat brother earlier in the day. An amendment was made to this particular lawsuit when a witness came forward and stated that they’d seen Hipps walking on the bridge’s railing. The authorities have stated that the statement collected by the witness doesn’t match other evidence that was gathered during the course of the investigation.

9e02d9cf0The national Sigma Phi Epsilon has requested that the fraternity’s name be removed from the lawsuit since they officially disbanded the Clemson chapter prior to the date that the lawsuit was filed.

Many believe that the only reason Hipps would have been on the bridge was a result of pressure that the fraternity places on all pledges to jump of the bridge and then swim to shore.

Clemson claims that they had no idea that Sigma Phi Epsilon had ever encouraged anyone to jump off the bridge and that if they had, they would have taken measures to stop the act. Clemson also states Sigma Phi Epsilon failed to contact the appropriate officials and gain permission to have a pledge run on the day of Hibbs’s death.

The lawsuit names both the Sigma Phi Epsilon national fraternity and three specific students as the defendants in the case. The students named in the lawsuit claim that not only did they not encourage Hibbs to jump, but that since he’d fallen behind the rest of the group during the run, they failed to witness the act.

“Cases like this are the ones I point to when asked why I chose a career in personal injury law,“ said Joseph Sandefur, managing partner of a top personal injury firm with an office headquartered in South Carolina. “These types of situations are so senseless and most often occur from people failing to stop and consider all of the potential consequences of their actions. Since the problem may never be resolved by the judiciary court of law, it’s up to the civil court to make those responsible accept that they behaved badly.”

Hibbs parents filed the lawsuits with the hopes that they would make the other Clemson fraternities stop and reconsider before putting their pledges in dangerous positions, sparing another family the anguish they’re currently feeling

If someone you love passed away as the result of someone else’s actions, you may have the grounds needed to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Visit to learn more about your rights.