Given the nature of some hazing practices, it's not surprising that this ritual could lead to a wrongful death incident. Such was the case when a drum major at Florida A&M died after being beaten by fellow band members as part of an initiation. This man's family filed a lawsuit seeking compensation and the university chose to settle for a total of $1.1 million.
The incident occurred in November of 2011 as the 26-year-old was subjected to the hazing on a bus while at an Orlando hotel. The band was on a weekend trip for a football game with another school. The student's estate will receive $800,000 from an insurance company while Florida A&M will pay $300,000. This was the maximum the school could pay without approval from the Florida Legislature. The payment will come from the Florida Department of Financial Services.
The school apologized for the incident and a plaque in the deceased student's memory will be placed at a location that has not yet been determined. Fifteen of the band members who were involved in the beating were arrested. The bulk of the sentences given out included community service and probation. One student, who allegedly organized the hazing, was convicted of felony hazing and manslaughter. His sentence is six years.
This wrongful death resulted from an ill-advised tradition. Such a fatal result could result from numerous similar circumstances. When the loss of a loved one occurs for any reason, it is vital that the family left behind understands how to pursue a legal case for compensation.
Source: Florida Courier, 'FAMU settles wrongful death suit with drum major's family," Sept. 18, 2015