Estate of Robert Champion, Florida A&M student who died in hazing incident, hires Cannon & Cretul’s Capitol Insight

in Uncategorized by

The family of Robert Champion, the slain Marching 100 drum major at Florida A & M University who died in a hazing incident in 2011, has retained Capitol Insight, the lobbying firm of former House Speakers Dean Cannon and Larry Cretul, according to the latest lobbying registration forms. Champion died after being beaten aboard a chartered bus following a band’s performance in Orlando.

Cannon, Cretul, and the firm’s other lobbyists — Cynthia Lorenzo, Kirk Pepper and Alan Suskey — are expected to assist Champion’s estate in navigating what is known as a claims bill through the legislative process. Legislation on behalf of Champion would certainly be one of the highest profile claims bills before the Legislature, perhaps as newsworthy as the multi-year effort to find justice for Eric Brody.

Claims bills, filed in the Senate, go to a special master for a recommendation to the full Legislature, which then must approve them. In many cases where such bills do pass, the award comes not from the state, but from an insurance policy. The bills are necessary because of sovereign immunity limits on how much government institutions can pay as the result of a lawsuit. Any amount agreed to or awarded above a certain amount must be approved by the Legislature in a claims bill.

Florida A&M University had offered late last year Champion’s parents $300,000 to drop a wrongful-death lawsuit. The family’s attorney told the Orlando Sentinel the family felt “insulted” and has refused the offer.

Material from the News Service of Florida was used in this post.


Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.