Orlando Judge Weighs Whether To Dismiss Hazing Lawsuit Against FAMU

Sep 11, 2015

Robert Champion died Nov. 2011 after being beaten in a hazing ritual on a bus parked outside an Orlando hotel.
Credit Tony Levell

An Orlando judge is weighing whether to dismiss a civil lawsuit against Florida A&M University. The family of Robert Champion sued the school after the drum major died following a 2011 hazing ritual.

FAMU's attorneys want the lawsuit dismissed, and say Champion voluntarily participated in his own hazing. A judge recently said something similar in delivering a shorter sentence to one of the FAMU hazing defendants.  But Champion family lawyers argue the school had a duty to ensure the welfare and safety of students.

In July Champion’s attorney offered an $8 million settlement to the university. Any award over $300,000 would have to be approved by the Florida legislature.

A claims bill was filed in 2013 on behalf of the Champion family, but it failed to get approval in the legislature.

The Associated Press reports an Orlando judge says he needs more time to decide whether the lawsuit should go to a jury or be dismissed.  Fifteen former band members have received a range of punishments from community service to prison sentences for their roles in Robert Champion’s death.