Florida Senate - 2016 (NP) SB 60 By Senator Abruzzo 25-00198-16 201660__ 1 A bill to be entitled 2 An act for the relief of Robert Champion, Sr., and Pam 3 Champion by Florida Agricultural and Mechanical 4 University; providing an appropriation to compensate 5 Robert Champion, Sr., and Pam Champion, individually 6 and as personal representatives of the Estate of 7 Robert Champion, Jr., for the wrongful death of their 8 son, Robert Champion, Jr., due to the negligence of 9 Florida A & M University; providing a limitation on 10 the payment of fees and costs; providing that the 11 appropriation settles all present and future claims 12 related to the wrongful death of Robert Champion, Jr.; 13 providing an effective date. 14 15 WHEREAS, in 2011, Robert Champion, Jr., was a 26-year-old 16 student at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University and a 17 drum major in the university’s marching band, the “Marching 18 100,” and 19 WHEREAS, on November 19, 2011, as part of a university 20 sponsored trip, Robert Champion, Jr., traveled to Orlando on a 21 university-chartered bus with the “Marching 100” to perform 22 during the halftime show at the Florida Classic, the annual 23 college football game between Bethune-Cookman University and 24 Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, and 25 WHEREAS, after performing at the Florida Classic, Robert 26 Champion, Jr., boarded the university-chartered bus designated 27 as “Bus C” and was brutally assaulted by fellow band members and 28 Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University students in a 29 hazing ritual known as the “cross-over,” and 30 WHEREAS, the cross-over consisted of forcing Robert 31 Champion, Jr., to run from the front to the back of the bus 32 while being punched, pummeled, kicked, struck, and pushed by 33 fellow band members and Florida Agricultural and Mechanical 34 University students, and 35 WHEREAS, Robert Champion, Jr., sustained serious injuries 36 during the cross-over and died an hour later of hemorrhagic 37 shock due to soft tissue hemorrhage from blunt force trauma, and 38 WHEREAS, the administration of Florida Agricultural and 39 Mechanical University was aware that an entrenched culture of 40 hazing existed at the university and, specifically, in the 41 “Marching 100,” and incidents of hazing had resulted in 42 complaints from band members and their families, repeated 43 injuries to band members, and lawsuits, and 44 WHEREAS, approximately 2 weeks before the 2011 Florida 45 Classic, the university’s band director, Dr. Julian White, 46 notified the administration of Florida Agricultural and 47 Mechanical University of hazing activities that had occurred in 48 two sections of the band at the October 2011 Homecoming football 49 game, but the university failed to take any action to suspend 50 the activities of the band before the Florida Classic, and 51 WHEREAS, on December 28, 2012, prompted by the death of 52 Robert Champion, Jr., Derry Harper, the inspector general of the 53 State University System Board of Governors, released the results 54 of an investigation into hazing at Florida Agricultural and 55 Mechanical University which was based upon more than a decade of 56 hazing reports and an analysis of the effectiveness of 57 university regulations, and 58 WHEREAS, the investigation found that there was poor 59 communication among departments critical to the development and 60 enforcement of antihazing policies, that there was a lack of 61 clear rules on how to handle hazing complaints, that incidents 62 of hazing on campus were not tracked despite a history of the 63 practice, that hazing allegations investigated by campus police 64 were not shared with the office that handled student discipline, 65 and that band member eligibility was seldom, if ever, verified, 66 and 67 WHEREAS, the inspector general concluded that, due to a 68 lack of effective institutional and internal controls designed 69 to prevent, detect, deter, and discipline students involved in 70 hazing, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University failed to 71 implement an antihazing program that complied with Board of 72 Governors regulations, university regulations, and applicable 73 state law and 74 WHEREAS, as a direct result of Florida Agricultural and 75 Mechanical University’s failure to develop adequate hazing 76 policies or enforce policies already in place, Robert Champion, 77 Jr., was fatally hazed by fellow band members and Florida 78 Agricultural and Mechanical University students, and 79 WHEREAS, in May 2012, 13 band members and Florida 80 Agricultural and Mechanical University students were criminally 81 charged with hazing that resulted in the death of Robert 82 Champion, Jr., and 83 WHEREAS, Robert Champion, Sr., and Pam Champion, parents of 84 Robert Champion, Jr., have suffered the loss of support, 85 services, and companionship of their son and endured mental pain 86 and suffering since the date of their son’s death and will 87 continue to suffer such losses in the future due to the 88 negligence of Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, 89 and 90 WHEREAS, the Estate of Robert Champion, Jr., seeks to 91 recover damages for medical expenses, funeral expenses, and loss 92 of earnings, and 93 WHEREAS, on February 13, 2012, Robert Champion, Sr., and 94 Pam Champion, individually and as personal representatives of 95 the Estate of Robert Champion, Jr., filed an action against the 96 Board of Trustees of Florida Agricultural and Mechanical 97 University in the Circuit Court of the Ninth Judicial Circuit, 98 Orange County, styled Robert Champion et al. v. A Ray Land 99 Productions Company et al., Case No. 2012-CA-002346-O, to 100 recover damages for the wrongful death of their son, Robert 101 Champion Jr., and 102 WHEREAS, the parties are negotiating but have been unable 103 to reach a settlement in the case, and 104 WHEREAS, Robert Champion, Sr., and Pam Champion, 105 individually and as personal representatives of the Estate of 106 Robert Champion, Jr., are entitled to damages for the wrongful 107 death of their son, Robert Champion, Jr., NOW, THEREFORE, 108 109 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 110 111 Section 1. The facts stated in the preamble to this act are 112 found and declared to be true. 113 Section 2. Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University 114 is authorized and directed to appropriate from funds of the 115 university not otherwise appropriated and to draw a warrant in 116 the amount of _____________, payable to Robert Champion, Sr., 117 and Pam Champion, as compensation for the wrongful death of 118 their son, Robert Champion, Jr., due to the negligence of 119 Florida A & M University. 120 Section 3. The total amount paid for attorney fees, 121 lobbying fees, costs, and other similar expenses relating to 122 this claim may not exceed 25 percent of the amount awarded under 123 this act. 124 Section 4. The compensation awarded under this act is 125 intended to provide the sole compensation for all present and 126 future claims arising out of the factual situation described in 127 this act which resulted in the wrongful death of Robert 128 Champion, Jr. 129 Section 5. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.