The wrongful death lawsuit against Florida A&M University is heating up.
The lawsuit, filed by the family of Robert Champion, claims FAMU should be held responsible for the hazing death of Champion. Champion, a drum major for FAMU’S famous marching band, died after being hazed by fellow band members.
Wrongful Death Lawsuit
The Champion family filed the wrongful death lawsuit against FAMU and a charter bus company stating Champion died after being beaten aboard the charter bus in Orlando on November 19, 2011.
This week lawyers for FAMU submitted a 23-page motion seeking the dismissal of the wrongful death lawsuit. In the motion FAMU lawyers state that Champion, 26, knew the dangers of hazing and even signed an anti-hazing pledge with university months prior to the incident. According to the Orlando Sentinel, Champion witnessed two other students being brutally hazed immediately before he was due to be hazed. Champion also spoke with fellow drum major, Keon Hollis, in which he debated going through with the hazing.
Hollis spoke of his conversation with Champion in a sworn statement in which FAMU lawyers cited as evidence to the fact that Champion knew hazing was against state law and university policy, but still went through with the act.
The motion states,
“”Respectfully, as a 26 year old adult and leader in FAMU’s band, Mr. Champion should have refused to participate in the planned hazing event and reported it to law enforcement or University administrators. Under these circumstances, Florida’s taxpayers should not be held financially liable to Mr Champion’s Estate for the ultimate result of his own imprudent, avoidable and tragic decision and death.”
The Champion family is seeking an unspecified amount of damages in the wrongful death lawsuit against FAMU. Under Florida law, the school can pay no more than $300,000 to Champion’s estate without seeking approval by the Legislature.
In addition to the wrongful death lawsuit, the hazing incident has also lead to criminal charges for a dozen former band members. Each of the 12 band members charged have pleaded not guilty to felony hazing. Felony hazing is a third-degree felony and is punishable by up to five years in prison.
The Defense is set to begin interviewing witnesses on Monday. Witnesses set to be interviewed by the defense include Orange County deputy sheriff’s who investigated Champion’s death, and also other band members who were hazed the same day as Champion, most notably, Lissette Sanchez.
Losing a loved one is hard. What makes it harder is the fact that their death could have been prevented. The South Carolina Wrongful Death Lawyers at the Strom Law Firm will assist you in gaining compensation from those responsible for your loved one death. We understand how hard losing a loved one can be which is why we will treat you and your case with the utmost respect. We offer free confidential consultations, so call us today to see how we can help you and your family. 803.252.4800.