The family of Robert Champion, the Florida A&M University drum major killed in a hazing ritual, has settled a lawsuit against FAMU, accepting $1.1 million and an apology for his death, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
The family will receive a $300,000 payout from the school through the Florida Department of Financial Services, which will pay the highest amount allowed without a claims bill, which would have required the Legislature’s approval, the Sentinel reports.
The balance of $800,000 will be paid by an insurance company for the Rosen Plaza hotel. The death occurred on a bus parked at the hotel where the marching band was staying.
In addition to the settlement, “the university will honor Champion by renaming the marching band’s anti-hazing program for the drum major and dedicating a commemorative plaque in his memory in the band room on FAMU’s campus, the student union, or ‘The Patch,’ as the band’s practice field is known,” the report says.
Champion, who was 26, died Nov. 19, 2011, after the hazing, which followed the band’s performance at the Citrus Bowl. The event was part of the Florida Classic weekend, an annual football game and band competition with FAMU rival Bethune-Cookman University, the report notes.
Champion was required to fight his way from the front of the parked bus to the back, pushing through “band members who blocked the aisle and punched, kicked and clubbed him with drum mallets and an orange traffic cone,” the report says. A medical examiner found that he died of soft-tissue bleeding caused by the beating he received from his colleagues, the Sentinel writes.
Champion’s parents, Pamela Champion and Robert Champion Sr., who run a foundation that opposes hazing in schools, bands and athletics, called the settlement a bittersweet victory.
“When our son, Robert, was killed, we vowed that we would do everything in our power to make sure that this didn’t happen to another family,” the Champions said, according to the Sentinel. “We called Robert ‘the example,’ and the positive change that will come as a result of his death will ensure that he did not die in vain.”
Read more at the Orlando Sentinel.