Hearings for motions filed in the Tucker Hipps wrongful death and personal injury lawsuits have been set for Nov. 5, according to Pickens County court records.
Among the motions filed by Hipps’ family in the two $25 million lawsuits are requests to add information gleaned from a witness who came forward after the original lawsuits were filed, detailing the alleged fraternity hazing episode that led to the Clemson sophomore’s death.
The hearing also will give Sigma Phi Epsilon, Inc., a chance to argue that the national fraternity should be dismissed as a defendant in the case because its Clemson chapter had been dissolved by the time the complaint was filed.
Clemson University and three fraternity members also are defendants in the lawsuits.
Hipps, a political science major and graduate of Wren High School, was on an early morning run with members of the fraternity on Sept. 22 , 2014 when he died. He was pledging to join the fraternity.
His body was found later that day in Lake Hartwell, below the State 93 bridge. Oconee County Coroner Karl Addis said he died from head injuries consistent with having fallen on rip rap rocks in the shallow water.
The new witness cited in the amended lawsuits the Hipps are attempting to enter said he saw someone being forced to walk across the narrow railing on the bridge.
The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office and 10th Circuit Solicitor Chrissy Adams have said they don’t think the witness’ statement is credible.
In its previous answer to the lawsuits, Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity Inc. says Hipps' death was caused by his "voluntarily jumping into the water" from a bridge over Lake Hartwell, and resulted from his own "negligence."