Florida Wrongful Death: FAMU Band Member’s Family to Name Bus Company in Lawsuit Over Fatal Hazing
In November, our Fort Lauderdale personal injury law firm published a blog post about how Robert Champion’s family was intending to file a wrongful death lawsuit naming Florida A&M University as the defendant. Champion, 26, died after he was brutally hazed. Last month, the his death was declared a homicide.
This week, Champion’s parents and their lawyer told the Associated Press that they plan to sue the Fabulous Coach Lines, the owner of the bus where Champion is believed to have been hazed. They have said that because of the bus company’s negligence, students were able to reenter the bus and conduct their hazing rituals. (Fabulous Coach Lines owner Ray Land has said that company staff did everything they could to assist once they were told there was a problem.)
Officials say Champion became unresponsive onboard the band bus, which was outside a hotel in Orlando, on November 19, 2011. He died from internal bleeding after sustaining blunt force trauma.
After Champion’s death, Julian White, FAMU’s band director, was suspended, as were the band’s upcoming performances. At least one student has since come forward to file a Florida personal injury lawsuit claiming she too suffered injuries, including a broken thigh bone, after other FAMU band members hazed her. In Florida, hazing is considered a felony crime.
In a statement issued through his lawyer, White said that he believes that Champion was beaten because he was gay and not because he participated in a hazing ritual, the drum major’s parents and their lawyer, disagree. They claim that attempts to frame their son’s death as a “hate crime” rather than a “hazing crime” are attempts by the band administration and the band to abscond responsibility for his death.
Florida Wrongful Death
There may be more than one party that you can/should hold liable for Florida wrongful death. A defendant doesn’t need to have directly caused the person’s passing. A person, institution, company, or organization can be sued if that party contributed to causing the death. This includes parties that could/should have acted to prevent the incident that caused the death.
Persons that can file a Fort Lauderdale wrongful death claim include the deceased’s spouse, kids, and any living parents. If there are any blood relatives or adopted siblings that were at least party dependent on the decedent for services or support (money, contributions in kind), they also may be considered survivors for purposes of bringing this type of civil claim. A Florida wrongful death lawsuit may seek damages not just for the loss of the decedent, but also for loss of support and services, companionship, mental anguish, pain and suffering, medical costs, funeral expenses, cremation bills, loss of income, and possibly other losses.
Robert Champion’s family will sue owner of bus where FAMU student died after hazing, Washington Post, January 10, 2012
Homicide ruling in case of Florida A&M drum major Robert Champion, CBS News, December 16, 2011
More Blog Posts:
Florida Wrongful Death Lawsuit Likely in FAMU Drum Major’s Alleged Hazing, Florida Injury Attorney Blog, November 26, 2011
Florida Wrongful Death Lawsuit Blames Improperly Installed Guardrail for Fatal Car Crash, Florida Injury Attorney Blog, January 6, 2012
Lauderhill Wrongful Death Lawsuit: Family Says Liposuction Procedure Caused Fatal Embolism, Florida Injury Attorney Blog, May 11, 2011