Florida A&M Offers Maximum Amount Allowed Under State Law to Settle Band Member's Wrongful Death Suit
In a truly tragic and senseless case the Florida A&M University is offering to pay $300,000 to settle the lawsuit filed by the family of a drum major who died following a hazing incident.
Robert Champion died nearly a year ago after being beaten by fellow band members aboard a bus parked outside an Orlando hotel.
Mr. Champion’s family has alleged that university officials did not take action to stop hazing even though a school dean proposed suspending the famed Marching 100 band just days before their son died. The lawsuit also alleges that school officials fell short in enforcing anti-hazing policies.
The amount offered by the school on Wednesday is the maximum amount the university can pay without seeking approval by the Florida Legislature.
FAMU’s president nor any of its representative have issued a statement about the offer.
The university made the offer this week following an unsuccessful mediation session between university attorneys and attorneys representing the Champion’s family.
An attorney for Champion’s family and a spokesman didn’t immediately return calls for comment.
FAMU has reversed its prior stance has the school had asked a judge to throw out the Champion lawsuit. That court filing said the lawsuit should be dismissed on several grounds, including that Champion should have refused to participate in hazing events and should have reported it to police.
The band has been suspended for the academic year, and the longtime band director and university president have resigned. The Florida Board of Governors is expected this month to release the results of a year-long probe into whether top university officials ignored warnings about hazing. University officials have responded by putting in a long line of new policies, including new requirements for band membership and new requirements for all students at the school.