Friday, November 09, 2012

FAMU offers Champions highest settlement permitted by sovereign immunity

FAMU has offered the parents of deceased drum major Robert Champion, Jr. $300,000 to settle their lawsuit against the university. It is highest settlement that FAMU can offer out of its own operating funds.

“FAMU has offered the Champions the absolute maximum amount allowable by law,” FAMU attorney Richard Mitchell said. “Anything more would require a special act approved by the state legislature.

“It is our hope that this settlement will be accepted and can in some way help in the healing process for the Champion family and the entire FAMU community.”

Florida’s sovereign immunity law sets $300,000 as the most that state may pay as part of a legal proceeding. Higher amounts must come from a claims bill passed by Florida Legislature.

Champion family attorney Christopher Chestnut said his clients were “insulted” by $300,000 offer and have rejected it.

A hearing is scheduled for Nov. 28 in Orlando. FAMU will be joined with two other defendants, Fabulous Coach Lines and bus driver Wendy Millette.

The lawsuit filed by the Champion parents alleges that Fabulous Coach Lines driver Wendy Millette stood guard outside the bus on which their son was being hazed. They also claim that she “forced” him back onto vehicle when he came out the bus door to vomit.

The detectives of Orange County Sheriff’s Office did not find any evidence that supported bringing any criminal charges against the driver.

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