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. Scott

    It's appalling that Jesse and Al are on the sidelines while blacks beat blacks. Heaven forbid if there was a white person involved.

    November 9, 2012 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • John P.

      Let's be fair, Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are pretty big idiots.

      November 11, 2012 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Alumni

    FAMU is NOT responsible for a 26 who willing wanted to participate in a long history ritual. I'm sure his parents were aware that he was going to participate in the ritual. He was a grown adult, who made a poor decision and unfortunately the consequence were sad. Money will not bring the young man back. I wish people stop being so money hungry. He should no have been allowed to participate in the college band at the age of 26. FAMU needs to put an age restriction for band participants. The overall story is very sad and disappointing, however, FAMU is NOT responsible!

    November 9, 2012 at 7:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott in NH

      If it was a one time incident the school had no control over, then yes. But you said "long history ritual." If the school knows about long standing rituals putting lives at risk, and it isn't their job to stop it, then who will?

      November 12, 2012 at 8:02 am | Report abuse |
  3. Guest

    The University's Band has such a culture of violence that the hazing did not even stop with the death of this young man. Even afterwards, the school did not step in to stop the violence. There were further arrests of students for fracturing someone's femur! The family is right, it is an insult. This was a young man with his whole life ahead of him. The best lesson this school could receive is a multi million dollar award from a jury, as incentive to never let it happen again.

    November 10, 2012 at 12:38 am | Report abuse |
  4. krehator

    I would not have offered them $3. Bunch of opportunists using the death of their son to blame anyone and make money.

    November 10, 2012 at 2:17 am | Report abuse |
  5. Alyssa

    It is an insult! Yes, he willingly participated, so in most cases I would say that the individuals involved are the only ones responsible; However, FAMU has a culture of hazing, and has had major hazing incidents before AND after this event. This was a tradition- not an isolated event that went wrong, but something that happened on many occasions. The school probably knew about it and condoned it, or easily could have found out had they not been turning a blind eye, because a bus load of band members beating each other after a football game is NOT discreet. This could have been prevented had the school taken a zero tolerance stance on hazing like every other university who doesn't want a million dollar lawsuit. Since they failed to prevent the death of a young man, they ARE partly responsible and need to choke up wayyyyy more than a measly $300,000 so the family can get some closure, and this never happens again.

    November 10, 2012 at 8:53 am | Report abuse |
    • FedUpWithComCrap

      I think the offer was lacking... three additional zeroes...

      November 11, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brandon

      So how would millions of dollars bring them closure? It doesnt. They are not even requiring the school to change anything as part of their suit. Its just money. If they were suing and then taking the money and placing it into a charity designed to stop hazing or provide people a means to report it then id say go ahead, sue for the big bucks, but otherwise it just smacks of greed. Just my two cents tho. Everyone has their opinion.

      November 11, 2012 at 11:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • SCL

      They are greedy. $300k is a lot better than their welfare checks.

      November 11, 2012 at 11:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott in NH

      I agree, $300,000 is an insult.

      November 12, 2012 at 8:17 am | Report abuse |
  6. cj

    Hazing is illegal period, if the school did not do anything to stop it they should pay millions!

    November 10, 2012 at 9:49 am | Report abuse |
  7. lg driggers

    If he was a drum major ...which is a position of a leader, you don't get your first year I think... why was he running the line? The question I would have if these was habitual, did he participate in the past as a beater?

    November 10, 2012 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
  8. gato

    This is all too sad ...isn't hazing an illegal activity? and a more extreme form of bullying... why aren't laws enforced and agressors punished to the full extent then? it is a crime and the perpetrators are still getting away... come on-put a stop to hazing once and for all ! ! !

    November 10, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Heather Halligan

    Sad story. A jury may not award more money. The family appears to be greedy, the young man knew what he consented to participate in, and no amount of money is going to bring him back.

    November 10, 2012 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
  10. hazingwrong

    so how come the school doesnt end hazing? if its going to cause not only death but also cause the participant to be humiliated in order to become a member of a fraternity, then the school needs to do more then just say "sorry, here's $300k".

    November 10, 2012 at 8:45 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Barb

    8 million is more appropriate! 300 thousand is embarassing!

    I only wonder WHY the Vatican hasn't stepped up to their systematic
    worldwide crimes against humanity as of yet. I work daily with brain damaged
    clergy abuse victims, of which the Roman Catholic Church has only given LIFE
    SENTENCES to!

    8 Million to this family & to every single victim of clergy as well. """Catholic HATE
    CRIMES, HAZING, & CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY MUST HAVE MOST SEVERE
    PENALTIES !"""""

    The Catholic Church and Universities MUST BE STOPPED from unlimited power abuse systemically
    Worldwide!

    November 10, 2012 at 9:08 pm | Report abuse |
  12. TexMan

    That offer is $299,999.95 too high

    November 10, 2012 at 9:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • truth

      that response was nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnot NEEDED

      November 11, 2012 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse |
  13. lili

    Wow, I find it disgusting that the murderers are getting slaps on the wrist for this. Come on. Community service? My heart goes out to this family.

    November 10, 2012 at 11:13 pm | Report abuse |
  14. JohnD

    The family forgot to sue the maker of the band uniform and if he carried a baton, the baton maker

    November 11, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nick

      Man if this is how the band does it, Let me know when the cheerleaders are having there ritual night.

      November 12, 2012 at 8:13 am | Report abuse |
  15. truth

    We care. Even if you dont. No matter how much you hate black people you are going to have to get use to them. We as in white people have become the minority and thats not going to change. I have alot of good black friends. The problem with people like you is you sit at home behind your computer and feel fearless but once you step out your home its a different story. Learn to embrace not hate and then you will see things differently PAL.

    November 11, 2012 at 7:14 pm | Report abuse |
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