Fraternity and bar sued over ’21 death of UNH student


Associated Press

Published: 11-14-2023 3:54 PM

CONCORD, N.H. — The mother of a University of New Hampshire student who died in an icy swamp two years ago filed a wrongful death lawsuit Thursday against the Durham bar and fraternity her son visited that night.

Vincenzo Lirosi, 22, was found dead Dec. 5, 2021, partially submerged in a small body of water in the woods. An autopsy concluded the sophomore’s cause of death was drowning and acute intoxication.

Robin Lirosi, of Whitman, Massachusetts, filed the lawsuit against Scorpion’s Bar & Grill, the UNH chapter of Sigma Chi and its national organization, and several individual members of the fraternity.

“Scorpion’s, the frat, and the frat brothers have gone on with life as if nothing has changed, but Vinny’s family have been robbed of that luxury,” attorney Leah Cole Durst said in a statement.

The lawsuit alleges the bar served Vincenzo Lirosi “in a matter that was so continuous and excessive” that it created a risk of death, and that the fraternity violated numerous safety policies and its duty to prevent further harm.

The executive director of Sigma Chi’s national office did not respond to a phone message Thursday. No one answered the phone at Scorpion’s Bar & Grill, and there was no response to a message sent to the bar’s Facebook account.

At the time of Lirosi’s death, police said he had been out drinking with friends before he went to a Sigma Chi fraternity party and got into a fight.

Citing a New Hampshire Liquor Commission investigation, the lawsuit states that Lirosi purchased 17 alcoholic drinks at the bar and grill in less than four hours and that he consumed at least nine of them. According to the lawsuit, a friend then invited him to the fraternity, though the fraternity said at the time that he did not have permission to be there.

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Lirosi resisted efforts by fraternity members to remove him, according to the lawsuit. A “full-out brawl” ensued, and Lirosi was punched in the head, pushed to the ground and kicked in the ribs, the lawsuit states.

“Lirosi was forced to stumble into the woods, visibly intoxicated, battered, and dazed from repeated blows to his head and body without a phone,” the lawsuit states, “and no person from Sigma Chi took any steps to ensure his safety.”