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Family awarded $10M in Football Death

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susan_harr6 years ago

Three years after the death of a 19-year-old University of Central Florida (UCF) football player, a verdict was finally reached in the case. The wrongful death suit verdict awarded $10 million to the family of the victim, who died after a strenuous off-season football practice. The family sued the UCF Athletics Association for negligence in the death.

About the Case

  • Cause of death was determined to be complications from a sickle cell trait, a leading culprit in athlete deaths
  • Athletes are supposed to be screened for sickle cell trait
  • The deceased tested positive for sickle cell trait but it was unclear whether or not he was informed of his diagnosis
  • The head coach testified he knew about the player's sickle cell trait
  • Plaintiffs claimed the coaching staff were aware of this condition and yet did not follow proper medical protocol for a sickle cell athlete in distress
  • Athletes with sickle cell trait are at risk for dehydration and low oxygen from working out too hard
  • Two players testified the head coach ordered water and trainers off the field before the players’ collapse


The parents of the victim were awarded $10 million for pain and suffering over the loss of their son.

  • $5 million to mother of deceased
  • $5 million to father of deceased
Sickle Cell Trait

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), sickle cell trait is different than sickle cell disease. People who inherit one sickle cell gene and one normal gene have the sickle cell “trait.” Those who inherit two sickle cell genes (one from each parent) have sickle cell disease. It is possible for a person with sickle cell trait to experience complications of sickle cell disease, such as splenic sequestration, “pain crisis,” and, rarely, sudden death. This can happen under extreme conditions of:

  • High altitude (flying, mountain climbing, or cities with a high altitude)
  • Increased pressure (scuba diving)
  • Low oxygen (mountain climbing or exercising extremely hard, such as in military boot camp or when training for an athletic competition)
  • Dehydration (too little water in the body)

According to the American Association for Clinical Chemistry, athletes with sickle cell trait are at risk for “exertional sickling.” This occurs when intense exercise causes blood cells to become deformed enough to block blood flow to muscles and cause their rapid deterioration. The National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA) has reported dozens of sports-related deaths from exertional sickling among college football players since 2000.

Contact an Experienced Wrongful Death Attorney

Thomas J. Henry is a personal injury law firm with offices in Corpus Christi, Texas and Houston, Texas representing wrongful death accident victims nationwide. Our priority is to provide our clients with the best legal representation. Our experienced trial attorneys are committed to defending your rights in personal injury matters. Contact our offices 24/7, day or night.


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