Tampa, FL (Law Firm Newswire) September 10, 2012 – Florida A&M University is the target of a lawsuit filed by the family of Robert Champion, a drum major who died in November.
It is a wrongful death suit alleging Florida A&M University officials knew of a marching band ritual that includes hazing. Apparently Champion was beaten by several band members on the band’s bus. There were 11 band members in total charged with felony hazing.
The incident was so disturbing the band was suspended through the next school year. Also, the band director retired, even though he had been serving in the role since 1972, and his bands were typically highly rated.
Hazing in marching bands might be increasing, although it is difficult to say because the problem has not been thoroughly understood. Reportedly, the desire to be in a marching band at the historically black universities is high, as their marching bands are often perceived as more entertaining than the sports teams. It was just four years ago when two members of the Southern University marching band were beaten with such severity that they required hospitalization.
“It would seem obvious to all that no one should ever be injured or die, simply from wanting to be in a university marching band,” said Tampa wrongful death attorney Robert Joyce. The culture of hazing is anything but simple, and it seems to be attached to that period of time when youth are trying to transition into adult societal roles. Sometimes these young people are desperate to fit into these roles, especially if they are coveted and convey some social status instantly.
This is not the first incident of alleged abuse at the university. In 2001, one Florida A&M former band member was paddled so hard he suffered kidney damage. An Ocala, Florida resident attending FAMU also was paddled to the extent he had to be hospitalized.
Joyce and Reyes Law Firm, P.A.
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