Hazing victim’s parents not interested in FAMU’s $300K offer, lawyer says
Florida A&M University student and band member Robert Champion Jr., 26, died in November 2011.
November 8th, 2012
05:35 PM ET

Hazing victim’s parents not interested in FAMU’s $300K offer, lawyer says

Florida A&M University has offered $300,000 the maximum it says it can offer without state legislative action as a settlement to the family of Robert Champion Jr., the drum major who died after a hazing ritual last year, a university attorney said Thursday.

But the family’s attorney, Chris Chestnut, said that the offer is an insult, and that the family will not consider it.

The offer, filed in Florida circuit court, aims to settle a lawsuit that Champion’s family filed against the school’s board of trustees in July.

“FAMU has offered the Champions the absolute maximum amount allowable by law,” FAMU attorney Richard Mitchell said. “Anything more would require a special act approved by the state legislature.

“It is our hope that this settlement will be accepted and can in some way help in the healing process for the Champion family and the entire FAMU community.”

Champion, 26, died in November 2011 following being beaten on a bus in Orlando, Florida, after a football game at which the school's famed marching band performed.

The hazing was part of a ritual known as crossing the bus, an initiation process in which pledges attempt to run down the center aisle from the front door of the bus to the back while being punched, kicked and assaulted by senior members, band members have said.

A medical examiner's office ruled his death a homicide and said Champion "collapsed and died within an hour of a hazing incident during which he suffered multiple blunt trauma blows to his body." An autopsy found "extensive contusions of his chest, arms, shoulder and back" as well as "evidence of crushing areas of subcutaneous fat."

Fourteen people have been charged criminal hazing in the case. One of them, a student, pleaded no contest and was sentenced last month to six months of community control (requiring he document his comings and goings, and request permission for any trips), two years of supervised probation and 200 hours of community service.

In addition to suing FAMU’s board of trustees, it has sued the company that owns the bus in which the abuse occurred, and the driver of the bus.

In September, FAMU responded to the lawsuit by filing court documents saying that the institution was not responsible for Champion’s death. The school asserted Champion broke the law and school policies when he willingly took part in the hazing that left him dead.

soundoff (102 Responses)
  1. J e f f F r a n k (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    The family's attorney is right. No amount of money will ever "resurrect" thier son.

    November 8, 2012 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. J e f f F r a n k (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    CNN: In addition to suing FAMU’s board of trustees, it has sued the company that owns the bus in which the abuse occurred, and the driver of the bus.
    JF: What? The bus didn't meet FDOT standards for a proper beating to occur? I don't understand.

    November 8, 2012 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • What...

      He was an adult who made the decision to subject himself to an assault...

      November 10, 2012 at 8:08 am | Report abuse |
  3. mybeardisnowgrey

    Another fine representation from one of our countries finest black colleges. SHAME, SHAME, SHAME.
    College administration knew damn well what was going on in that band. It was a tradition that had gone on for years, and they tolerated it only because the glorified minstrel show, know as the famu marching band made the college so much money. SHAME,SHAME, SHAME on you all.

    November 8, 2012 at 8:45 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Michael

    It's pretty sad when the defendant in the case (FAMU) blames the victim for the crime. That had he not participated then he would be alive. Like this poor kid was given any choice in it.

    November 8, 2012 at 8:55 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • chris

      As hard as it is to say this, yes he had a choice. He could have chosen not to go ahead with running from the front of the bus (where there is a door and he could have exited) to the back as required by the ritual. He chose to do it and there by should be held partially responsible.

      November 8, 2012 at 10:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Marsilius

      Chris, the victim clearly shouldn't have had to do that in order to remain in the band. It's disgraceful that this was required of him if he wished to achieve that objective.

      November 9, 2012 at 12:51 am | Report abuse |
    • jennyoh

      Chris, crushing of subcutaneous fat indicates that at some point he had someone of something on top of the area with the injury. The extent of his injuries were far too bad and it is highly improbable that he was running at all.

      November 9, 2012 at 1:06 am | Report abuse |
    • C

      He was 26... Not a kid.

      November 9, 2012 at 9:34 pm | Report abuse |
  5. banasy©

    This whole thing is just reprehensible.

    November 8, 2012 at 9:00 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  6. john

    Sad about the boy dying.

    If they are going to arrest, charge and convict the other students that participated then it is only fair to go back to whenever this hazing ritual started and arrest and charge every single student, no matter how many, took part in similar rituals.

    And forbid lawsuits. Period.

    November 8, 2012 at 9:06 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Marsilius

      Why forbid lawsuits?

      November 9, 2012 at 12:52 am | Report abuse |
  7. PigBodine

    So basically it is his own fault that he is dead

    November 8, 2012 at 9:20 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. jones

    It all comes down to money. This should just be a homicide case.

    November 8, 2012 at 9:24 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Marsilius

      It is clear that the criminal action did cause civil damages to result.

      November 9, 2012 at 12:56 am | Report abuse |
  9. vad

    So what was the bus driver supposed to do? Intervene and get beat up? Restrain somebody and get sued because he caused them "pain and suffering"? Bus driver was in a lose lose situation,

    November 8, 2012 at 9:33 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Dan

    Arrest students from ten years ago who weren't even in the state of Florida when the crime occurred??? Makes not one lick of sense

    Forbid lawsuits?? If ever there was a crime which deserved a lawsuit, this is it – The FAMU board of trustees knew damn well what was going on and they did NOTHING! This is a simple case of gross negligence and all that remains is to determine how much this young mans life was worth and that's what the parents will be awarded. Taxes may have to go up in Florida to pay it, but so be it

    November 8, 2012 at 9:35 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. kuddln

    My condolences to the Robert Champion Family... they deserve justice NOT an insult of $300k The FAMU know that the incident took place on their property which makes them liable. They should be ashamed of themselves.. and the judge will definitely show them how much shame they will face when the filing gets on his hands to evaluate. No child voluntarily goes into any hazing environment willingly, not one !

    November 8, 2012 at 9:47 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • DebAH

      agreed. The settlement offered is a slap in the face.

      November 9, 2012 at 1:24 am | Report abuse |
  12. regor60

    He's 26, an adult. Why does the family have any standing to sue to begin with ?

    November 8, 2012 at 9:59 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • name

      Because it's kind of hard to sue people once your dead.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • C

      I can't say I'm grasping this either. He was an adult that made a decision, on a bus with other adults. These were not children. If there were witnesses that saw something happening against his will then I'd understand yes that's a homicide. Isn't this more of an assisted suicide? I'm certain that wasn't his intention, but if by 26 you don't know that it's not a good idea to willingly accept an assault then that's not saying much society

      November 9, 2012 at 9:42 pm | Report abuse |
  13. OldBandie

    FAMU took the low road with insult on top of insult. They may not be fully responsible, and technically be right about the victim's taking a chance, but they're captains of the ship. They're the ones who employ a band director and staff who I'm sure have been looking the other way for years. I'm surprised that director isn't being sued.

    November 8, 2012 at 11:43 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • socketwrench55

      Band Director isn't the one with deep pockets. Doesn't make sense to sue someone who you will never get money from.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • TC Smythe

      The band director had been begging for help for years and the university's leadership ignored him. They had full knowledge and were accessories.

      November 9, 2012 at 1:55 am | Report abuse |
  14. Name s kel

    FAMU officals need to be fired and arrested. All for the sake of a marching band, how sad!

    November 8, 2012 at 11:57 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Parker

    They should take it, and then they can get off welfare.

    November 9, 2012 at 12:31 am | Report abuse | Reply
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