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. Interesting

    No amount of money will bring him back. What is the family trying to prove? Maybe they could accept the money and start a scholorship fund in his name to help others.

    November 9, 2012 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • wcb2009

      I expect the lawsuit they filed is for alot more than 300k. They have a pretty good case so I cannot see any reason to settle.

      November 9, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • kirby

      That school and the state needs to be sued out of the ass, including many fraternities and sororities. Perhaps this will now put such behavior under major scrutiny instead of a silence band-aid.!

      November 9, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ana

      Maybe if you were the parents of a boy beaten to death you would understand that they are not out to prove anything.

      November 9, 2012 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tracy Didas

      I agree with the previous post. No amount of money will bring thier son back. Take the money offered and start a foundation or scholarship fund in his name.

      November 9, 2012 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
  2. shots

    In an injury claim settlement all bills and the lawyer gets paid from.... no taxes are levied on said claim it is tax free

    November 9, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
  3. july

    Do you believe agreeing to go He is agreeing to die be killed!!!!They were on a (college )bus with a (college )employee anything that happens on that bus they college) r responsible. Probation!!for killing a man is the insult.The bus driver is a essary to murder.He didn't do anything to stop it!!!!kids 10yrs old get charged like an adult.All were willing to kill.

    November 9, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
  4. KeyWester

    This type of negotiation is normally handled a lot more discretely. The school is offering $300 K which is all they can offer without the legislature approving more. Period. They can't offer in good faith what they don't have. The Champion's attorney knows this perfectly well and is grandstanding with all this "insult" stuff and the media is letting itself be used as his megaphone. The only thing that can happen for the school to have more is if the Legislature gives them more. But hey, at least they can go to the Legislature. If this was an insurance policy with a $300K limit than $300K would be it.

    November 9, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ana

      You repeated everything that was already said in the article.

      November 9, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  5. july

    He agreed to go not to die.

    November 9, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Frank Garrett

    $300k? ROFL, how about $300mil

    November 9, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  7. july

    The money is not the issue,that comes later the charges r my voice and then close the school a man is dead!!! Never to return it is a great injustice!!!Pay up!Reckless!!! we r tired of sending our children to college and coming back in a bodybag.Your school is responsible.Fumu!stop talking about money.

    November 9, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  8. july

    How about how much is your child worth!!!Close the school how much is that worth?Never to return!!!

    November 9, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  9. july

    Im sad for the families every year i hear this happening 2013 rules need to be put in place that it is Not okay!! We r sending our children to get a education not to be killed its not worth a team, a school Nothing.No sports,r more important than our children.Get It!!!No parents should hear those words,that r being said to these people about money!!!Wake up what you say to others one day maybe said to you!!!

    November 9, 2012 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
  10. july

    They have a chance to make it right for this family that have suffered a great loss.Make it Right somehow.These people involved)Do Not deserve to go unpunished.Just as serverly they beat to death these students shall they be held for there actions.Every college in America.Hazing Life without parole.

    November 9, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  11. july

    No amount is to great!Make examples everyone else follow.In hope one day.Soon is the answer.The money is only punishment cause everyone of these families do not feel relief.You cannot ever sigh relief when a child is gone.Time just goes on it does not heal always in your heart wounded filled with pain.Greif ,suffering

    November 9, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Ana

    The deceased victim broke the law and school policies??? By doing what, getting beat to death? So let me get this straight, his murderers get 6 mos. of community control and Robert Champion who is dead, is at fault? Somebody needs to look the word "Justice" up in the dictionary.

    November 9, 2012 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
  13. july

    Oh!Lets not forget Guilt for sending them.Okay!sorry in every word you speak to these families but 0!0!0!0!0!0!0!0!0!0!0!0!0!0!0!0!etc..Yes we can!!!Dig Deep!!!Money is the surface.Wounded for Life.

    November 9, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
  14. carolina shaver

    I am outraged by the school's statement that the young man broke the law by 'willingly taking part in the hazing" and basically that it was his own fault. Nothing like blaming the victim.

    November 9, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Reponsibility

    To all the idiot bleeding hearts out there, explain to me how this is not partially, if fully, the part of the "victim"? the dude was 26 years old, capable of making his own decisions. he chose to take part in this ritual. no one forced him. the college is not responsible for his choice, but more his parents should be by not teaching their son to fold to peer pressure. the dude made a choice. he died because of his own stupidity. blaming someone else does nothing but reek of desperation and greed.

    November 9, 2012 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
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