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 in NH

    Beating someone to death is murder. You can't opt-in to being murdered. 11 days before he was beaten to death a girl was beaten 3 times in hazing incidents until her pelvis was broken and she could barely walk. If the school can't provide a safe environment for the students, the school needs to be closed.

    November 12, 2012 at 8:19 am | Report abuse |
  2. Robert

    This man suffered and lost infinitely more than Jerry Sandusky's so-called "victims", but no one has a problem with making Penn State pay millions (if not billions). $300,000 is a pretty paltry value to put on someone's life. It's a nuisance payment, and nothing will change. Make them pay millions, and they will have to address the problem

    November 12, 2012 at 8:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Colinmb

      Make who pay millions? The kids attending school there? That's who'll pay with increased tuition to offset any judgement.

      November 12, 2012 at 9:33 am | Report abuse |
  3. ***

    isn't that like "getting jumped" when they join gangs? you have to "get jumped", take x blows to the chest and whatever other stupid stuff they come up with. sounds like some gang initiation thing.

    November 12, 2012 at 8:22 am | Report abuse |
    • ***

      i agree that $300,000 is an insult added to injury.

      November 12, 2012 at 8:24 am | Report abuse |
  4. Nono

    Why is the family suing? To get a big settlement or to change the culture at FAMU? If all they want is $$$$ shame on them. If they want to elimate hazing, maybe they should ask the question why did their 26yo son participate? What share of this tragedy was his own fault? Some? None? All perhaps?

    November 12, 2012 at 9:37 am | Report abuse |
  5. Jesse357

    All the family wants is to get paid. This thing was a tragedy but this young " adult man" made a choice and paid the ultimate price for that. Criminal prosecution for those individuals that did it to him I can fully support but these lawsuits are only for enriching the family and the lawyers. The victim in this case bears some of the responsibility. He was not a child.

    November 13, 2012 at 8:25 pm | Report abuse |
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