The University of Central Florida is appealing a $10 million wrongful death verdict over the death of a player during an offseason exertion workout in 2008. After two weeks of contradictory and acrimonious testimony, the jury found for the family of Ereck Plancher. Plancher is one of a number of college athletes with sickle-cell trait who died during workouts. Similar to the Ole Miss wrongful death case, Plancher was tested for sickle-cell anemia, but was not informed of the results. Instead, according to testimony from other players, he was singled-out for not working hard enough and the coach ordered water and trainers removed from the field during practice.
Plancher’s family went to court after turning down a $4.7 million settlement offer, possibly because the settlement didn’t come with an admission of fault. According to the family’s lawyer, “Ereck Plancher will not be compromised and the student-athlete around the country will not be compromised.” Exertional offseason workouts have become the leading killer of college football players, with a majority of the deaths linked to sickle-cell trait.
The appeal is being supported by amicus briefs from other Florida universities, Florida and Florida State. Similar to the Virginia Tech wrongful death lawsuits, the universities are arguing that they should be covered by sovereign immunity, which in Florida means that the wrongful death award would be capped at $200,000.
The jury agreed with Plancher’s family that his death could and should have been prevented. If you have lost a loved one due to a preventable accident, you may be able to receive compensation for your loss. To learn more about your legal rights and options, please contact Robert W. Kerpsack, CO, LPA in Columbus, Ohio for a free case evaluation.