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Parents File Florida Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Death of UCF Football Player During Drills

Attorneys for the University of Central Florida have asked to end discovery in an Orlando wrongful death lawsuit over the death of a freshman wide receiver during off-season drills, the Orlando Sentinel reported June 11. Ereck Plancher died in March of 2008, at the age of 19, from extreme physical stress that aggravated a genetic condition called sickle-cell trait. His parents, Enock and Giselle Plancher of Naples, allege that coaches and trainers negligently failed to recognize and treat Ereck Plancher’s suffering before he collapsed during a workout.

Sickle-cell trait is a genetic condition caused by inheriting one of the two genes necessary for developing sickle-cell anemia. It’s found in about a tenth of African-Americans, as well as others of Mediterranean and African descent. People with sickle-cell trait don’t necessarily get sick, but they’re susceptible to several problems, including sudden circulation problems (due to blood cell sickling) because of exercise-induced dehydration and extreme fatigue. UCF officials were aware that Ereck Plancher had the condition, but said they handled it properly and did everything they could to save his life. The Planchers disagreed in their lawsuit, saying coaches and trainers ignored signs of extreme fatigue and made him continue drills.

Judging by the article, a trial in this case is still months away. But as a Silver Lakes wrongful death attorney, I would like to know how well Ereck Plancher communicated his symptoms to his coach. Student athletes are generally discouraged from complaining about tough workouts, especially on the competitive college level. This young man may have tried to tell his coaches that he wasn’t feeling well — or he may have kept it to himself, fearing that he would be penalized for “whining.” While that’s an understandable policy in general, it’s dangerous under certain circumstances. Allowing one student to sit out a drill is not without costs, but the costs can’t possibly be higher than the life of a young man.

Cohn, Smith & Cohn handles a variety of claims involving negligence by coaches, teachers and others in charge of the health of kids, teens and young adults. In addition to wrongful death claims over known health conditions, coaches and sports organizations may be liable for failing to recognize and treat signs of ordinary but serious problems such as heatstroke or concussions. They could also be liable for failure to properly equip and train young athletes to help them avoid injuries. Victims of this careless behavior, and their families, have the right in Florida to file a Palm Beach County wrongful death lawsuit or personal injury claim.

If you have lost a loved one because of another person’s carelessness, you should call our law firm, Cohn, Smith & Cohn, as soon as possible. With more than 25 years of experience, we have helped numerous South Floridians recover from the serious emotional and financial effects of a wrongful death. Our Tamrac wrongful death attorneys can help you claim the money you need to pay medical and funeral bills and make up for any loss of income, as well as compensation for your grief and permanent loss of your loved one. And we offer free, confidential consultations, so there’s no risk in speaking to us about your rights and your options. To learn more, you can contact us online or cal our main Hollywood office at (954) 431-8100 today.

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