Champion’s Parents Sue FAMU for Son’s Wrongful Death

Robert Champion’s parents filed Wednesday a wrongful lawsuit against Florida A&M. Champion’s family held a press conference that came just a few hours after President Ammons announced his resignation from the university. 

Robert and Pamela Champion said they want to help end the scourge of hazing that has spread through the university culture for years.

“The interest of this family today isn’t money, it’s how many lives we can affect, how much change we can bring and how many students we can save from hazing in the future,” said the family’s lawyer, Christopher Chestnut.

In the 33-page lawsuit, the family sues A Ray Land Productions Company, Fabulous Coach Line, the bus driver Wendy Millette and FAMU’s Board of Trustees. 

“The FAMU Board of Trustees knew or in the exercise of due care should have known that the FAMU Band engaged in conduct that violated the University’s policies and the laws of the state of Florida and of the United States,” according to the text of the suit.

The suit also claims that the board “Negligently failed to have any policies or procedures governing, monitoring, or disciplining FAMU Band members for facilitation, participation or encouragement of hazing activities, or in the alternative”.

It claims that the board failed to discipline and control the band and that failure led to the death of Robert Champion. The family demands judgment against the board.

“For damages exclusive of attorney fees, costs, and interest, in an amount in excess of the jurisdictional limits.”

There are several counts against the bus company and it’s negligent driver. There is also a count of wrongful death against Florida A&M University Board of Trustees. The file claims the Board of Trustees allowed the Marching 100 to proceed in the 2012 season because of
“The public notoriety and financial gain of participating.”

The Board of Trustees knew the acts of hazing would continue after Dean Henry Kirby proposed the band to be suspended after a hazing incident that happened in October 2011. The Champion family and their lawyer are well aware of FAMU’s recorded history of hazing incidents happening in 1983, 1998, and 2001. They are using this evidence in their lawsuit to support their case and bring justice for their son. 

“We plan on holding everyone accountable,” Pamela Champion said. “We want to eradicate the culture of hazing.”