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Tucker Hipps family settles lawsuits filed against Clemson and Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity

Family photo.

Tucker Hipps

The family of Tucker Hipps has reached a settlement in the wrongful death and personal injury lawsuits filed against Clemson University, Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity and several of its members after Hipps’ death on Lake Hartwell in Sept. 2014.


Court documents filed with the Pickens County Courthouse on Wednesday show that the cases have been “fully settled.” The amount of the settlement still has to be approved by a judge and was not disclosed, according to court records.


Hipps was a 19-year-old Clemson University sophomore and fraternity pledge who was found dead near the Highway 93 bridge after going on a run with members of Sigma Phi Epsilon on Sept. 22, 2014.


Hipps’ parents, Cindy and Gary Hipps, filed two lawsuits seeking $25 million from the defendants in March 2015.


According to the lawsuits, the run Hipps went on the day he died was organized by Sam Carney, Thomas Carter King and Campbell Starr, members of Sigma Phi Epsilon and the only three students named in the case.


The lawsuits allege that before the run, Hipps was asked to bring 30 McDonald’s biscuits and two gallons of chocolate milk to the fraternity members and that after he failed to do so, a confrontation occurred between Hipps and King on or near the bridge.


The lawsuits allege that Hipps was forced to walk on a narrow railing on the bridge by members of the fraternity. Hipps died of head injuries that were consistent with a fall, according to Oconee County Coroner Karl Addis.


Fraternity members have frequently denied seeing Hipps fall, and Clemson University and local and national chapters of Sigma Phi Epsilon have denied responsibility for Hipps’ death.


The case remains open and unsolved, and no criminal charges have been filed.  


Clemson University declined to comment on the lawsuit settlement Thursday.


“We do not have one at this time as the legal/judicial process is still under way,” Clemson University spokesman John Gouch said in an email.


This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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