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Florida A&M University Denies Liability in Student’s Death

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In a tragic hazing incident last year, 26-year-old Robert Champion, a drum major at Florida A&M University, suffered injuries so severe that he did not make it out of the ritual alive. Known as “Crossing Bus C,” members of the marching band were expected to run down the center aisle of a bus while being assaulted by senior members in order to prove their merit. This includes being “deprived of oxygen, punched, kicked and hit with objects” (CNN), which is a hazing tradition that has reportedly been carried out for decades at the university. Unfortunately for Robert Champion, his initiation proved to be particularly brutal. For this reason, his parents have since followed up the tragic event with a wrongful death lawsuit against the board of trustees at Florida A&M University, the company that owns the bus in which the hazing occurred and the driver that allowed the assault to take place.

In retaliation to the accusations that have been made against them, FAMU has decided to combat the lawsuit with the assertion that Champion was responsible for his own death. According to the court documents that have been filed on behalf of the university, they believe that “Mr. Champion should have refused to participate in the planned hazing event and reported it to law enforcement or University administrators.” The victim’s family is standing firm, however, as they claim that FAMU was aware of the hazing rituals that have historically taken place across the campus. They have even alleged that similar incidents have led to multiple hospitalizations prior to Champion’s death, and that just a few months before he was killed, the school’s Dean proposed a long-term suspension of the marching band in lieu of hazing allegations. Unfortunately, the suspension was never implemented, and the band was allowed to continue carrying out these animalistic attacks on fellow band members.

For this reason, fourteen of the band members who had participated in assaulting Champion have been charged with misdemeanor and felony counts of hazing resulting in death. According to the victim’s family, however, justice will not be served until the school is held responsible for their hand in his death, as well. They believe that Florida A&M University owed Champion a duty of care and that they had failed to keep him reasonably safe. As such, they have every intention of continuing on with their wrongful death lawsuit. If you have been forced to endure the loss of a loved one under similar circumstances of negligence and/or blatant recklessness, you too should not hesitate to take legal action. By consulting with a West Palm Beach personal injury attorney from our firm, you can get started on exploring your options and pursing the compensation that you deserve. Call today for further information.