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FAMU files motion in hazing death of drum major Robert Champion.
Drum major Robert Champion was a grown adult who made his own choices, and Florida A&M University should not be held responsible for his death, the school said in court documents filed Monday.
FAMU’s 23-page motion filed in Orange County court is the school response to a wrongful death lawsuit launched by Champion’s parents.
The 26-year-old student died last November during a hazing ritual with the marching band.
“Champion should have refused to participate in the planned hazing event and reported it to law enforcement or university administrators,” FAMU’s statement says, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
“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.”
More from GlobalPost: Robert Champion’s family sues school, president resigns
FAMU asked the judge to dismiss the lawsuit, which also names the charter bus company and bus driver.
The Champions, through a lawyer, said they are shocked and dismayed by FAMU’s response.
The family is seeking unspecified damages from Florida’s only publicly funded, historically black school.
“We simply cannot ignore the audacity of an institution that blames students for their own deaths, yet for decades ignored the hazing epidemic occurring within its own walls,” attorney Christopher Chestnut told CNN.
Champion died after taking part in a ritual where band members try to run down the bus aisle while others beat them.
The incident happened after FAMU participated in a football game in Orlando.
FAMU said it’s not trying to blame the victim, but that it had taken steps to address the problem by asking band members to sign anti-hazing pledges.
Champion’s parents contend the school ignored warnings and did little to stop hazing.
More from GlobalPost: Robert Champion agreed to hazing, docs show