Tort Law

Florida School Seeks Dismissal of Hazing-Related Wrongful Death Suit

A Florida university has asked a judge to dismiss a wrongful death suit against it over the 2011 hazing death of a drum major in the school’s marching band.

Richard Mitchell, a lawyer for Florida A & M University, said Wednesday that the victim, Robert Champion, willingly submitted to the hazing ritual to gain the respect of certain band members, Reuters reports.

Orlando judge Walter Komanski, who is presiding over the case, will rule on the school’s request next week.

Mitchell argued in court that Champion, whom he referred to as a “victim participant,” willingly agreed to the hazing by boarding the band’s charter bus after hours and by watching the hazing of two other band members while waiting his turn.

“The overarching dispositive question is, did Mr. Champion participate in the hazing that caused his death?” he asked.

Police have said that the 26-year-old drum major died from shock caused by severe bleeding. A medical examiner ruled that Champion’s death was a homicide.

Kenneth Bell, a lawyer representing Champion’s family, argued that Champion’s own participation in the hazing shouldn’t bar his family from suing the school for damages.

Ten former members of the school’s marching band face felony hazing charges stemming from Champion’s death.

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