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Two Student Deaths Highlight Wrongful Death Investigations

Sometimes, when an individual is killed, it can be hard to get the right information, and to figure out who should be held responsible. In one hazing case, parties still disagree about whether the university should be held accountable, and which student participants should be tried in criminal court. In another suspicious gym mat death, an autopsy questioned the results of a police report. Your attorney’s investigation into your wrongful death case can help you untangle the facts.

University Refuses to Settle Hazing Case

Parents of a 26-year-old drum major killed as part of a hazing ritual watched this past December as the alleged “ringleader” was convicted of manslaughter and felony hazing. The individual had organized a ritual to initiate the victim into the Florida A&M Marching 100 Band. The drum major was induced into running through the aisle of a bus as students swung at him with fists and even mallets. The victim collapsed, vomited, and died the parking lot following the beatings. Following the student’s death, the program was suspended for a year and two other students were convicted of misdemeanor hazing counts. The school now requires students to sign anti-hazing agreements.

The ringleader could spend as many as 22 years in jail, but the parents of the victim do not celebrate the verdict, or the potential sentence, but lament the hazing culture that led to the ringleader’s actions as well as their son’s participation. Although the court system has held the students accountable, the parents’ wrongful death suit to hold the university accountable is still pending. The bus company, whose driver the parents accused of acting as a lookout for the ceremony and even forcing their son back onto the bus when he tried to escape, has settled with the parents. However, as of yet, the university that permitted the hazing climate has yet to settle the case. Instead, the school continues to blame the victim and deny their own culpability.

Autopsy Questions Purported Accidental Death, Lawsuit Filed Against City

Meanwhile, in nearby Georgia, another set of parents have filed a $100 million wrongful death lawsuit for the alleged beating death of their son in the gym of a local high school. Their complaint explains how their son was induced to enter the gym by one student, and violently assaulted by two others. They allege that a local FBI agent, the father of the two students who purportedly attacked their son, engineered the attack. In any case, the body was found rolled up in a gym mat in the corner of the gym.

The initial story the parents were told was that the teenager accidentally died when he became entangled in the mat while tying his shoe. Police concluded that the student died of asphyxiation after a four-month investigation. However, the body was exhumed and examined by a Florida-based forensic pathologist, whose autopsy revealed unexplained blunt force trauma on the student’s body inconsistent with the police department’s proposed sequence of events. The suit includes the city and members of the police force as named defendants.

If someone you know has died under suspicious circumstances, you can take action even though it may not be clear, at first, who should be held responsible. Fort Lauderdale wrongful death attorney Scott Newmark can investigate the case and help you find out which parties should be held responsible.

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