FAMU Still Negotiating To End Hazing Lawsuit

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) —  Florida A&M University, which had a previous settlement offer rejected, is still trying to resolve a lawsuit filed by the family of a drum major who died following a hazing ritual.

The university board held an emergency meeting on Thursday night to discuss the wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of Robert Champion. Champion died in November 2011 after he was hazed on a band bus parked outside an Orlando hotel.

Most of the meeting held by telephone was closed to the press and public because it involves an ongoing lawsuit.

There were no final decisions made regarding the lawsuit. Interim FAMU President Larry Robinson said that the FAMU board had “authorized the continued good-faith effort of our legal team to resolve the matter with the Champion family.”

The Champions, who live in the Atlanta suburb of Decatur, Ga., claim university officials did not take enough action to stop hazing in the famed Marching 100 band before the death of their son. They rejected a previous offer to settle the case for $300,000.

Since Champion’s death FAMU has made sweeping changes to try to combat hazing. The band remains suspended and there still has not been a time announced for its return. The university is in the middle of trying to find a new director for the band.

Last November attorneys for FAMU asked a judge to dismiss the Champion family lawsuit against the university. They contended that Robert Champion was a willing participant in the ritual and that he wasn’t forced to board the bus that fateful night.

FAMU Board Chairman Solomon Badger said the board held an emergency session to discuss the lawsuit because the board is not scheduled to meet again until April.

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