Hazing Death Lawsuit Filed Against Bus Company and Driver

Back in December we blogged about how Florida A&M University was being sued for their role in the hazing death of one of the traveling marching band members. Now the family of the deceased student has also filed suit against the charter bus company.

In November, following the school football team’s loss at the Florida Classic, a 26-year-old drum major with the FAMU marching band was discovered on one of the band’s charter busses – Bus C. Bus C sat in the parking lot outside the band’s Orlando hotel. A 911 call came in to request an ambulance, and the caller told the dispatcher that the student had stopped breathing and was unresponsive. The student was later found dead, as a result of blunt force trauma from hazing.

According to a lawsuit recently filed, the driver of the bus stood guard while the student was assault by his classmates. Papers filed in court allege that another bus driver employed by the charter company saw Bus C rocking and asked the driver what was happening. The driver of Bus C allegedly told the other bus driver to ignore it and move on.

It is believed that the drum major was subjected to two types of hazing. First, he was placed in the hot seat, with his breathing restricted, and asked a series of questions. For each correct answer he was allowed to take a breath, but for each incorrect answer he was hit and kicked. Next, he was told to run from the front of the bus to the back while being pummeled by band members. At one point the drum major was allowed to leave the bus to vomit, but it is believe that the driver of Bus C forced him back onto the bus so that the hazing could continue.

The wrongful death lawsuit alleges that the driver made it easy for such hazing to occur, and may, in fact, have actually allowed previous instances of hazing to occur by turning a blind eye and encouraging other bus drivers to do so as well.

Source: Orlando Sentinel, “Suit: Bus driver stood by while Champion was beaten,” 2/13/12.