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Judge Asked to Dismiss Florida Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Hazing Death

By Orlando Personal Injury Attorney on December 6, 2012

Attorneys representing Florida A & M University have asked a judge to dismiss a wrongful death lawsuit filed against the institution in connection with the hazing death of marching band drum major Robert Champion in 2011. FAMU lawyer Richard Mitchell requested Judge Walter Komanski to throw out the lawsuit filed by the victim’s family on the grounds that the victim willfully submitted to and participated in the hazing ritual that caused the injuries that led to his death. Orlando wrongful death attorney James O. Cunningham is monitoring developments in this case very closely, as the judge’s ruling could have far-reaching implications in Florida wrongful death lawsuits.

Calling Champion a "victim participant," Mitchell asked the court, "The overarching dispositive question is, did Mr. Champion participate in the hazing that caused his death?"

Champion was 26 years old when he died from shock caused by severe bleeding after the hazing ritual in a bus parked outside an Orlando hotel where the marching band was staying. Mitchell asserts that by willingly boarding a charter bus where Champion knew the hazing was going to occur and by watching two other band members endure the ritual while he was waiting for his turn, Champion was complicit in his own death. FAMU has previously tried to have the wrongful death lawsuit dismissed on similar grounds, suggesting that Champion is responsible for his own death. Kenneth Bell, the wrongful death lawyer who filed the lawsuit on the family’s behalf, has asked Judge Komanski to allow the case to be presented to a jury. He argued that participating in hazing is not enough to prevent the family from suing FAMU for damages.

We have blogged about this very regrettable and completely avoidable tragedy in previous posts. As previously mentioned, Mr. Cunningham and other Orlando personal injury attorneys are following developments in this case very closely. Ten former members of the university’s "Marching 100" band face felony charges in connection with Champion’s death, and a medical examiner ruled that his death was a homicide, which lends credibility to the family’s suit. If you have lost a close family member and have questions about your rights and legal options in a wrongful death case, call Mr. Cunningham today at 877-FL-INJURY (877-354-6587) to schedule a 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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