Judge to rule on FAMU's request for Robert Champion hazing lawsuit dismissal

FAMU attorneys say Champion died as a result of agreeing to be hazed

ORLANDO, Fla. - A judge says he will rule next week on if he will dismiss a civil lawsuit brought by the family of a Florida A&M University drum major who died last year after being hazed by fellow band members.

Attorneys went before Circuit Judge Walter Komanski on Wednesday, claiming the university has sovereign immunity, which says the university is a state entity and can't be liable for Robert Champions' death. Attorneys said his fatal injuries were the result of his agreeing to participate in hazing.

"Robert Champion knew exactly what he was doing and why he was traveling to that bus and getting on it," said Rick Mitchell, FAMU's attorney.

FAMU attorneys also disputed statements that other bus drivers saw the bus "rocking" and didn't do anything.

Champion family's attorney said there wasn't any unlawful activity by Champion and that he didn't willingly participate in hazing, a forcible felony. Champion's attorneys also said Wendy Milette, the bus driver, had control of the bus and got it ready for hazing.

"She granted them access to the bus and prepared the bus for the hazing activity," said Champion family attorney Chris Chestnut.

Komanski said he hoped to rule by next week on the motion to dismiss the lawsuit.

[Follow reporter Louis Bolden as he tweets live from the hearing below]

Champion's parents filed a lawsuit contending university officials did not take action to stop hazing even though a school dean proposed suspending the famed Marching 100 band just days before their son died. The lawsuit also alleges that school officials fell short in enforcing anti-hazing policies.

Champion's parents rejected a $300,000 settlement offer from the university earlier this month. In October, the first of a dozen defendants was charged in last year's hazing death of a Florida A&M drum major was sentenced to probation and community service on a third-degree felony charge.


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