Linfield student files $8.3 million lawsuit claiming eye lost in - KPTV - FOX 12

Linfield student files $8.3 million lawsuit claiming eye lost in hazing incident

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Photo of Kellen Johansen provided by attorney Gabriel Weaver. Photo of Kellen Johansen provided by attorney Gabriel Weaver.
Photo of firework in alleged hazing incident provided by attorney Gabriel Weaver. Photo of firework in alleged hazing incident provided by attorney Gabriel Weaver.
MCMINNVILLE, OR (KPTV) -

A Linfield College student has filed an $8.3 million lawsuit against the school and the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity claiming he lost his eye in a hazing incident.

The fraternity is denying the allegations.

Court documents state Kellen Johansen said he was participating in a hazing ritual last February and pressured to drink alcohol, even though he was underage, and run naked through part of campus.

The lawsuit alleges the chapter's president lit a firework that exploded on the ground and hit Johansen's right eye.

The lawsuit states his eye was removed after months of medical treatment.

Lawyers for the family said he is now permanently disfigured, which will "impair his future earnings and career prospects." They are also seeking payment for pain and suffering.

The lawsuit is also seeking $175,000 for Johansen's mother due to medical, travel and lodging costs, as well as lost wages.

The Pi Kappa Alpha headquarters released a statement Wednesday saying they were "sympathetic to the injuries" sustained by Johansen, but disputed the allegations.

The fraternity states he was not injured in a fraternity function, but rather a "late night (3:00 AM) informal gathering of only three individuals," and he approached the firework at close range to record it with his cell phone while ignoring repeated requests to step away. The fraternity stated "this important piece of video evidence was later deleted."

Pi Kappa Alpha reported that Johansen had been an initiated member of the fraternity for almost a year at the time of the incident.  

"The allegations of hazing are simply not accurate with respect to the incident at issue, and the chapter disputes the allegations as stated," according to the Pi Kappa Alpha statement.

Linfield College also released a statement saying administrators have not yet been served with the lawsuit, but the school prohibits any and all forms of hazing.

"This is a terrible accident. Fortunately, our student has been able to continue his studies, and we look forward to him returning to campus and successfully finishing his degree," according to Linfield's statement.

The fraternity was placed on probation two months before the incident for not following Linfield's rules about alcohol, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit states the college should have known Pi Kappa Alpha would continue to violate those rules.

The complaint was filed in Multnomah County Tuesday. No court dates have been scheduled at this time.

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