Two students at Texas A&M University claim in a lawsuit that they were “permanently disfigured” when an industrial strength cleaner was poured on them during a fraternity hazing incident.
The students, Patrick Close and Jose Figueroa, filed a complaint against Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity, its Texas Tau Chapter, and several of its members on Oct. 18 in Harris County District Court. The former fraternity pledges claim the fraternity members violated the Texas anti-hazing statute, Texas Education Code, Section 37.153,
Close and Figueroa are seeking at least $1 million in damages and a jury trial.
The students claim in the lawsuit that they were pledging the fraternity during the spring 2021 semester. At some point, they were “forced to do various kinesthetic activities” while at least eight of the fraternity’s members poured “various foreign substances on them,” according to the lawsuit.
“The substances poured on Close and Figueroa included human spit, raw eggs, paint, food condiments, and eventually the industrial strength cleaner known as SC-200,” the lawsuit states.
SC-200 is a high alkaline, solvent-based, extra heavy-duty industrial cleaner that can cause severe burns and serious eye damage, according to its manufacturer. Those who are exposed to the chemical are advised to thoroughly rinse their skin.
Close and Figueroa suffered serious bodily injuries including severe burns as a result of the exposure to SC-200, the lawsuit claims.
“As a result of the burns they endured, Close and Figueroa were transported to Houston, Texas, to undergo emergency skin graft surgery and eventually underwent a second skin graft surgery,” the suit states. “Close and Figueroa are both permanently disfigured as a result of the burns they endured at the hands of the Defendants.”
Due to the severity of their injuries, Close and Figueroa continue to suffer disfigurement, physical impairment, limitation of activities and “loss of enjoyment of life,” the lawsuit states. Both students anticipate they will require additional medical treatment in the future.
Earlier this week, Texas A&M’s SAE chapter was suspended for two years, a university spokeswoman, Kelly Brown, confirmed. The suspension will be followed by two years of probation.
“Texas A&M will not tolerate actions or behavior that degrades, intimidates, humiliates or endangers students,” the university said in a statement. “We will continue our hazing prevention education programs, which includes outlining what constitutes hazing and the consequences for such poor choices. Hazing is a violation of Texas A&M’s Student Code of Conduct, student organization policies and Texas state law.”