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FAMU President Resigns as Champion Family Sues School

The president of Florida A&M University, James Amoons, tendered his resignation today, the same day that drum major Robert Champion’s family added the school to a wrongful death lawsuit.

Ammons’s resignation came by way of a letter to the FAMU governing board.

The lawsuit against the school alleges that FAMU officials didn’t do enough to stop the hazing, though they were aware that it was a tradition within the marching band.

“[The] FAMU Board of Trustees negligently failed to properly supervise, train, discipline and control the FAMU band,” the lawsuit says. “[The] FAMU Board of Trustees knew or in the exercise of due care should have known that hazing of FAMU Band members would continue taking place in the 2011 band season unless drastic action was taken to prevent it.”

The lawsuit also claims that FAMU Dean of Students Henry Kirby “recommended suspension of the FAMU band, which was ignored just three days prior to the subject incident.”

The Champion family had to wait at least six months to file the suit because FAMU is a state institution, which is Florida law, according to Christopher Chestnut, the Champion family’s attorney.

The suit includes three wrongful death counts, a negligence count and a liability count, while FAMU’s board of trustees is charged with one of the wrongful death counts. The other wrongful death counts are against the bus company Fabulous Coach and Wendy Millette, the bus driver.

“They’re still distraught,” Chestnut told ABCNews.com. “Friday is his birthday. You never get over losing a child. Every day they wake up and walk past his room and they’re reminded of him.”

The lawyer said the lawsuit will compel the school to give them the answers they need to begin to heal from Robert’s November death.

“I don’t know that you ever get closure, especially considering the brutality of Robert’s murder,” Chestnut said. “But it is making a lot of proactive efforts to emotionally reconcile their feelings and [eventually] change the tradition of hazing.”

The lawsuit seeks monetary compensation for the Champion family for “past and future mental pain and suffering,” “past and future loss of decedent’s support and services,” and expenses from medical care and funeral arrangements.

Chestnut said it will be up to a jury to decide how much money the family is entitled to.

 

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