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Florida A&M Seeks Dismissal of Wrongful Death Lawsuit

By Orlando Personal Injury Attorney on September 22, 2012

Florida A&M officials recently announced that the university is in no way responsible for the hazing death of Robert Champion. They claim that Champion is solely responsible for the incident that occurred on a charter bus in Orlando last Nov. 19 and the injuries he suffered in a hazing incident.

Florida A&M filed a 23-page motion in Orange County Circuit Court recently, asking the court to dismiss a wrongful death lawsuit filed against the school by Champion’s family. In their motion, A&M officials said that:

  • Champion was a 26-year-old man who knew the dangers of hazing and participated on his own hazing despite having signed a pledge that said he would not participate in hazing activities.
  • He had already witnessed two other students endure the hazing ritual before it was his turn and had, after discussing his decision with another band member, decided to participate in the hazing anyway to gain the respect of his colleagues.

A&M’s legal team states that the school should not be blamed for something that the victim knew was dangerous, voluntarily participated in and knew was in clear violation of school policy. A section of the motion said:

"In the final analysis, neither Mr. Champion, Mr. Hollis, hotel security, nor law enforcement experts — with all their specialized crime prediction and prevention training and resources — were able to predict or prevent this shocking and depraved hazing incident, and therefore, it would be unfair and illogical to hold FAMU to a different and higher level of omnipotence."

"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. 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."

Champion’s family filed the wrongful death claim last February against the charter bus company and driver and added Florida A&M University to the suit as a defendant this past July. Champion’s parents claim that the school is partially responsible for their son’s death because it failed to stop a culture of hazing within the school’s marching band.

This is a glimpse into the intricacies of wrongful death cases and the powerful forces that can be aligned against people who file wrongful death claims. Very few Orlando wrongful death lawyers have the experience, skills and resources to help clients achieve success with wrongful death claims, but James O. Cunningham has won numerous multi-million dollar lawsuits for his clients over the years. If you have lost a close family member due to someone’s negligence and believe that you have a legitimate wrongful death claim, call 800-425-2004 to speak with one of the most experienced Orlando personal injury attorneys in the area. Call Mr. Cunningham today to schedule your free consultation.

James O. Cunningham

Since 1977, personal injury lawyer James Cunningham has provided effective legal advocacy to people who are injured through the negligent actions of another person or entity throughout the Central Florida area. He fights to obtain recoveries for his clients’ physical and emotional pain and suffering and pursues his clients’ personal injury cases with a commitment to excellence and impeccable preparation.

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