JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Another fraternity brother is being sued for a hazing incident at the University of Missouri that left a 19-year-old man in a wheelchair, blind and unable to speak.
The Santulli family’s lawyer David Bianchi said the fraternity member, Harrison Reichman of Kansas City, is responsible for not calling 911 or administering CPR when he saw Danny was unconscious and not breathing. Instead, according to the lawsuit, he carried him off the couch and dropped him on his head.
“His medical bills are just astronomical,” Bianchi said. “We’re not even one year from when this happened and his medical bills already exceed $2 million.”
Last fall, Danny Santulli started his freshman year at Mizzou. Weeks later, according to the lawsuit, he was ordered to drink an entire liter of vodka during a fraternity event. The suit explains that Santulli attended the “Pledge Dad Reveal Night” at Mizzou’s Phi Gamma Delta house and drank so much that he became unresponsive.
The lawsuit said Santulli’s pledge dad “handed Santulli the ‘family bottle’ of Tito’s vodka which Santulli was expected to consume in its entirety before the event was over.”
Santulli was then selected by other members to drink a beer through a tube. The lawsuit names Alex Wetzler as the brother who made Santulli drink the beer.
The lawsuit then went on to say that before midnight, Santulli was sitting on a couch in “extreme distress and with a blood alcohol of .468%.” That’s nearly six times the legal limit in Missouri. Thirty minutes later, around 12:30 a.m., Santulli slid partially off the couch and ended with his face on the floor. He had no control of his arms or legs and stayed there until someone passing through the room put him back on the couch. The lawsuit names Samuel Gandhi as the fraternity brother that left after putting Santulli back on the couch.
The lawsuit filed Thursday named Harrison Reichman again, as the man who carried Santulli off the couch and dropped him while taking him to another fraternity member’s car.
“What makes the lawsuit against Harrison Reichman different is that he is the one that picked up Danny from the couch when Danny was not breathing and was just on the brink of death,” Bianchi said. “Then, he held (Santulli) upside-down, did not administer CPR, and then dropped him on his head.”
The lawsuit states Santulli’s “skin was pale and his lips were blue, yet no one called 911.” Instead, the decision was made to drive Santulli to University Hospital in Columbia in one of the brother’s cars. The lawsuit says “when they arrived, hospital staff went to the car only to find that Danny was not breathing and in cardiac arrest. CPR was performed and Danny’s heart was restarted.”
Santulli was then rushed to the intensive care unit (ICU) and put on a ventilator. Days later, he was removed from the ventilator and able to breathe on his own, but he was still unresponsive. He was unaware of his surroundings, unable to communicate, and had a significant injury to his brain.
“Had Danny been properly cared for at that moment that Mr. Reichman got involved, either he would have not suffered brain damage because they could have oxygenated him or it would have been minimized,” Bianchi said. “But instead of all of that, precious time was wasted and the injury to him was compounded by dropping him on his head.”
Santulli, now unable to walk, talk, is blind and unable to care for himself. He lives in Minnesota with his parents, but his older sister just started her senior year at Mizzou.
“His sister sees these fraternity members on campus as she walks around and she is very upset by this. Her words are, ‘They [the fraternity members] are going about their lives as though nothing ever happened and they did nothing wrong,'” Bianchi said. “Days before the incident, the lawsuit says Santulli’s sister went to the fraternity house to see Santulli, and “for the first time in his life, he broke down and cried to her.”
Santulli told his sister he was exhausted and that he could not take being in the fraternity anymore. The suit said that his sister “realized that he was suffering from overwhelming depression and fatigue.” After she and her parents tried telling Santulli to walk away from Phi Gamma Delta, Santulli said he wasn’t a quitter and “Did not want to be humiliated and ridiculed by those who rank he was trying to join.”
The lawsuit also mentioned what Santulli had to do for the older fraternity brothers before pledge night.
“He was sleep-deprived, was having to buy things for the fraternity brothers with his own money, and was repeatedly ordered to clean the brothers’ rooms and bring food, alcohol, and marijuana to them at all hours of the night,” the suit alleges.
During his pledging process, the suit claims Santulli had been ordered to climb into a trash can that had broken glass in it, which resulted in a bad cut on his foot, and he had to go to the hospital to get stitches and crutches.
This isn’t the first time Phi Gamma Delta had been in trouble at Mizzou. The fraternity has a track record of alcohol-related violations in 2017, 2019, 2020, and 2021. Less than two months before the hazing incident, Phi Gamma Delta was in violation of university policies and alcohol distribution. The school sanctioned the fraternity to the alcohol education program and the alcohol event probation.
Over the summer, the Santulli’s settled with 25 defendants in a civil case including fraternity brothers and the national Phi Gamma Delta Organization. There have been 11 brothers criminally charged in the case, including Reichman. Last week, six of the 11 were set to appear in court. During last Thursday’s hearings, four of the six were represented by attorneys. No one appeared for the other two fraternity brothers. The hearings were quick as the judge set preliminary hearings over the course of September, October, and November.
Attorneys representing Samuel Lane, Blake Morsovilli, Samuel Gandhi, and John O’Neill were in the Boone County Courthouse on August 25. Samuel Morrison and Harrison Reichman were not represented. Benjamin Parres and Benjamin Karl have court dates scheduled in October and September.
Other fraternity members such as Thomas A. Shultz and Ryan P. Delanty were charged prior with hazing. Alec Wetzler was charged with supplying alcohol to a minor. Reichman’s lawyer did not respond to a phone call asking for a comment regarding the new lawsuit.
Bianchi said in an interview Friday, that he’s been told seven members have been expelled from Mizzou following the hazing incident. Back in May, the University of Missouri said 13 students received disciplinary sanctions because of the incident but did not give specific details. Shortly after the October event, Mizzou stopped recognizing the fraternity as a student organization and the national organization closed the chapter and told the university no one associated with the fraternity was living in the house.