Lawsuit Filed in Marco Shemwell Case: Names National Fraternity Responsible for Tragic Death

LEXINGTON- September 17, 2019 – The law firms of Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton; LLP and Norman Law, PLLC who are representing the family of Marco Shemwell, formally filed a lawsuit today in Fayette Circuit Court naming the Alpha Tau Omega (ATO) Fraternity and its chapter at University of Kentucky Chapter (Mu Lota) for their responsibility in the death of four-year-old Marco Shemwell.

On Sept. 15, 2018, Shemwell was waiting to cross the street with his father and brother during a University of Kentucky football game, when Jacob Heil, a pledge of the Mu Lota Chapter of ATO suddenly swerved his Hyundai Sonata crashing into the family and fatally injuring Marco, who tragically died two days later. The ATO Fraternity hosted a beer breakfast that morning where Heil and other underaged pledges were hazed and served alcohol. It was found that Heil had been drinking both at a fraternity -sanctioned event that morning and at the fraternity house prior to the crash.

Heil was legally drunk at the time of the crash.

“The ATO Fraternity has a long and troubling history of alcohol and hazing related injuries and deaths,” said Matt Minner, of Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton, LLP law firm. “At the time of this tragedy, ATO was still on Conduct Probation for alcohol related violations that left a student hospitalized. The national fraternity has wholly and completely failed to put a stop to this type of conduct. ATO is an organization that not only failed the Shemwell’s, but also failed it’s members and pledges– this time, young Marco was the victim.”

“As we approach the 1-year anniversary of this tragedy, the family, through their faith and the outpouring of love and support from the community, are continuing to work on healing,” said Minner.

It is the family’s hope that by holding the fraternity responsible for the death of their son, it will shed light on the need to create a more positive and safer environment within the Greek system.

“We want to honor Marco’s legacy by setting a precedent to keep this from ever happening to another family again,” said Ben Shemwell, Marco’s father.

One step the family has taken to honor Marco’s legacy, has been to establish The Marco Shemwell Foundation, with the goal of bringing hope, comfort and healing by creating ‘Marco Moments’ that leave ripples of positive change. To learn more about the foundation, please visit

The case is not yet set for trial.

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