Marie Lourdes Andre filed the lawsuit Monday in Brooklyn against the Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity. The suit seeks at least $25 million in damages.
George Desdunes was found unconscious on a couch at the fraternity house in Ithaca in February and later was pronounced dead. The lawsuit says he had his hands and feet bound in a mock kidnapping and was made to drink alcohol until he passed out.
Cornell revoked the fraternity's recognition after the death.
The fraternity was founded at the University of Alabama in the 1850s. Its website says it consists of 241 chapters with about 11,000 undergraduate members. It hasn't returned a telephone call seeking comment.