Friday, July 3, 2020
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In hazing lawsuit, Florida university responds bluntly

Florida A&M University, where a drum major died from injuries in a hazing incident, has filed a motion in court to dismiss a wrongful death lawsuit against the university brought by the drum major’s family, Reuters reports, here via the Chicago Tribune.

According to an article late Monday afternoon in the Orlando Sun-Sentinel, lawyers for FAMU, in their brief, argue that Robert Champion, who was 26-years-old when he died, had signed an agreement acknowledging that the hazing practice violated school policy—and was illegal—but decided to go through with it on his own accord in order to gain the respect of his bandmates.

“Respectfully, as a 26-year-old adult and leader in FAMU’s band, Mr Champion should have refused to participate in the planned hazing event and reported it to law enforcement or university administrators,” the lawyers were quoted as saying. “Under these circumstances, Florida’s taxpayers should not be held financially liable to Mr Champion’s estate for the ultimate result of his own imprudent, avoidable, and tragic decision and death.”

In the amended lawsuit, Mr Champion’s family alleges that university officials knew about the hazing practice and turned a blind eye, allowing it to continue despite at least 107 similar incidents since 1983. Twelve former members of the university’s famed “Marchin 100” band are charged with felony hazing in Mr Champion’s death, a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison. All have pleaded not guilty.

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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