Florida A&M University says a 26-year-old drum major with its marching band killed in a hazing incident should have known better than to submit to the ordeal.
The university asked a court to dismiss the lawsuit brought by Robert Champion's family. The family says FAMU failed to root out the culture of hazing in its band, the Marching 100.
Rick Mitchell, an Orlando lawyer representing the university, said the lawsuit tries to hold FAMU to a higher standard than the other people who could have prevented Champion's death, including the victim himself.
"Respectfully, as a 26-year-old adult and leader in FAMU's band, Mr. Champion should have refused to participate in the planned hazing event and reported it to law enforcement or university administrators," Mitchell said. "Under these circumstances, Florida's taxpayers should not be held financially liable to Mr, Champion's Estate for the ultimate result of his own imprudent, avoidable and tragic decision and death."
Champion's death has had a huge impact on Tallahassee school. Champion was fatally injured when he ran a gauntlet of students hitting him in a bus parked in a hotel lot in Orlando.
The university suspended its famed band.
"We cannot ignore the irony and audacity of an institution in blaming Robert for his death," said Christopher Chestnut, a lawyer for the family. "Blaming students for hazing allows the culture of hazing to become deadly."