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Florida A&M University was sued by the family of the late Robert Champion for their part in the death of the 26-year-old drum major. But in a motion to dismiss filed Monday the school is claiming that Champion's death is his own fault.
The motion alleges that as an adult Champion knew that participating in the hazing was against school policy and state law. As a result the school should not be liable for his actions, reports USA Today.
That's an interesting argument, but whether it's enough to get the case against FAMU dismissed remains to be seen.
The family sued FAMU for their role in tolerating hazing on campus, not for directly causing Champion's death.
They claim the school didn't stop the culture of harassment that was part of the Marching 100, which Champion was a member of. It was a hazing incident last fall that led to the young man's death.
A motion to dismiss is a plea to the judge to throw out the case against a defendant. The party filing the motion is essentially claiming that there is no legal claim against them or that the claim was improperly made.
In this case, FAMU is claiming that Champion's family doesn't have a claim against them under the theory that Champion is responsible for his own death.
That doesn't seem to address the issue of whether the school allowed a culture of hazing to continue which could be a contributing factor in Champion's death but a judge will make the final decision.
The suit against FAMU is separate from the criminal charges against several of Champion's band mates who participated in the hazing that led to his death.
The criminal charges are brought by the state but the civil suit is brought by Champion's family. It's a way for them to hold people responsible for the suffering Champion's death has caused.
Unlike a criminal suit, a civil lawsuit never results in jail time.
The punishment is usually monetary and is intended to compensate the plaintiff. That includes repayment of lost money or property as well as funds to cover pain and suffering.
A judge has yet to rule on FAMU's motion to dismiss but Robert Champion's family's lawyer isn't convinced, reports the Orlando Sentinel. In the meantime, a settlement to the case is still an option.
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