Champion Family Rejects $300,000 Settlement Offer from FAMU

By: Matt Galka; Lanetra Bennett Email
By: Matt Galka; Lanetra Bennett Email

Tallahassee, FL -- $300,000. That's the price tag FAMU put out there to try and end the hazing lawsuit filed by Rober Champion's family.

A statement from FAMU attorney Rick Mitchell read “FAMU has offered the Champions the absolute maximum amount allowable by law. Anything more would require a special act approved by the state legislature. It is our hope that this settlement will be accepted and can in some way help in the healing process for the Champion family and the entire FAMU community."

CNN reports that the Champion's attorney, Chris Chestnut, said the offer was an insult and the family would not consider it.

Students on FAMU's campus were split on the offer.

"If they're able to come up with some type of change to give the family respect for their son's loss, then I think that is very sufficient," said FAMU senior Taeja Smith.

"I mean I don't really know what would be a good number. If they were offered a million, some say that would be too high, some might say it's not enough, but somebody is still dead at the end of the day," added graduate student Ade Oladokun.

For now, the Champions quest for closure continues.

Statement from FAMU Attorney

“FAMU has offered the Champions the absolute maximum amount allowable by law. Anything more would require a special act approved by the state legislature. It is our hope that this settlement will be accepted and can in some way help in the healing process for the Champion family and the entire FAMU community."

Richard “Rick” E. Mitchell
Counsel for FAMU
GrayRobinson, P.A.

Tallahassee, FL, November 8, 2012 - Florida A&M University is offering to pay $300,000 to the family of a drum major who died last year after he was beaten during a hazing ritual.

The university made the offer this week following an unsuccessful mediation session between university attorneys and attorneys representing Robert Champion's family. The family has sued the university.

The amount represents the maximum amount FAMU can pay without seeking the Florida Legislature's approval.

Larry Robinson, FAMU's interim president, would not comment directly on the offer. Robinson would only say the university legal team is trying to resolve the litigation.

Champion died after he was beaten by fellow members of The Marching 100 during a hazing ritual in Orlando. An attorney for Champion's family and a spokesman didn't immediately return calls for comment.

Tallahassee, FL, July 10, 2012 - The parents of the Marching 100 drum major killed in a hazing ritual are moving forward with suing FAMU for their son's death.
The move was expected any day now, and Robert Champion's family's attorney says that day is tomorrow, Wednesday July, 11.

Robert Champion's parents and their attorney will address media outside the Orange County Courthouse in downtown Orlando tomorrow, June 11.

Community members say a lawsuit still may not bring closure when dealing with a loss of a child, but, hopefully it can mean healing.

The head of the Tallahassee NAACP, Dale Landry, says a lesson can be learned from the hazing death of Marching 100 Drum Major Robert Champion.

Indeed, it looks like it could cost FAMU...The Champion family attorney says Champion's parents are suing the university.

Champion died after a hazing ritual on November 19th in Orlando.
As we reported earlier, FAMU's dean of students said he and the former police chief discussed the band should've been suspended three days before the incident.

Says Landry: "As a graduate of FAMU also, I also grieve for the loss of Champion. Out of these dark hours, as they say, there has to be something that's going to come in the morning for everybody involved."

In February, the Champions filed suit against 'Fabulous Coach Lines'. The hazing ritual was performed on one of the company's buses after the Florida Classic Football Game.

The Champions said they would sue the school as well.

In the opinion of Tallahassee resident, Patricia Williams:
"I think that's a very good thing. I think they should've already done that because it's too much of that hazing stuff that's still going on. I think they're doing the right thing and I hope they get a good outcome from it. Let's just hope that we can find healing and some form of peace can come to that family and our family at FAMU."

Florida law says the Champions had to wait six months before filing a lawsuit. WCTV will stay with the story as they make that official step.

Tallahassee, FL, July 10, 2012 - There's a new twist in the beating death of a Florida A&M University drum major. The parents of Robert Champion are expected to file a lawsuit against FAMU.

Robert and Pamela Champion announced months ago they planned to sue the school, but Florida law required them to delay action for at least six months because FAMU is a state institution.

Fellow band members pummeled Champion to death on a parked charter bus after the annual football game with Bethune-Cookman last November. It was part of a hazing ritual. Eleven of the band members have been charged with felony hazing in connection with Champion's death.

Last week, FAMU released records showing the school's dean of students recommended the band be suspended long-term due to hazing concerns three days before Champion's death. FAMU's former police chief also says he urged top administrators at a meeting on the same day as the dean's remarks to keep the band off the field. FAMU President Doctor James Ammons says he didn't learn about those recommendations until after Champion's death.

Champion's parents haved already filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the bus company and the driver of the bus where their son was beaten.

That suit was filed in February.

A family spokesman says the couple is traveling from Georgia to Orlando today to file a new suit against FAMU.

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