Uh oh! Florida A&M University is in hot water this week! The HBCU says it’s not responsible for the death of drum major Robert Champion. In a response to a wrongful death lawsuit, university officials claim Champion, who — as an adult — must bear responsibility for his decision to undergo the hazing ritual that led to his death. HUH?!
In papers filed this week, the school maintains that 26 year old Champion, was legally responsible for his own death. He was beaten in November by other members of the Marching 100, the university’s famed band, during a hazing rite. Champion died after a football game in a charter bus parked outside an Orlando hotel.
Twelve former members of the group have been charged with felonies in the case, which also led to the forced retirement of the band’s director and later the departure of the president of the school, Florida’s only public, historically black university.
“No public university or college has a legal duty to protect an adult student from the result of their own decision to participate in a dangerous activity while off-campus and after retiring from university-sponsored events,” states the document prepared by Richard E. Mitchell, an attorney with the GrayRobinson law firm hired by FAMU.
Champion family attorney Christopher Chestnut said Monday night that he was shocked by the filing.
“We cannot ignore the irony and audacity of an institution in blaming Robert for his death,” Chestnut told the Orlando Sentinel. “Blaming students for hazing allows the culture of hazing to become deadly.”
The university is asking the court to throw out the wrongful death suit or at least delay it until the criminal cases are resolved.
What do you think?