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University Enters Mediation With Parents of Football Player in Wrongful Death Case

As a Hallandale wrongful death lawyer, I was interested to see another development in the ongoing wrongful death claim filed by the family of Ereck Plancher, which is going to mediation, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Plancher was a 19-year-old football player for the University of Central Florida when he died during a conditioning drill. Plancher is believed to have died of sickle cell trait, a condition related to sickle-cell anemia, but which is usually only triggered when the patient exercises very intensely. His parents, Enock and Giselle Plancher, allege that UCF football coaches and other employees negligently ignored their son’s symptoms on the day he died, despite knowing he had sickle-cell trait. Their lawsuit has been complicated by the UCF Athletic Association’s claim that it’s a state agency, which would limit its financial liability if the Planchers win their case.

Sickle-cell trait is caused by having one of the two genes that causes sickle-cell anemia. It’s usually benign, but during intense exercise and dehydration, normal red blood cells can turn sickle-shaped, causing death quickly. Coaches at UCF knew Ereck Plancher had the condition, according to an ESPN investigation. That investigation also talked to teammates who were present on the day Plancher died, one of whom said Plancher collapsed during his second sprint. When he got up, the student said, he was way behind everyone else and seemed like he was about to collapse. Their coach reportedly told him “that’s bulls—” and told him to keep moving. Shortly afterward, Plancher collapsed again and coaches ordered the teammates not to help him up. It was only after a third collapse that coaches and trainers called for medical help.

Much of this most recent article focuses on the issue of whether the UCF Athletic Association can be considered a state agency; the trial court has ruled that it cannot. That may seem like a minor issue compared to the issue of how coaches and trainers handled Plancher’s physical struggles, but as a North Miami wrongful death attorney, I know it’s very important for the Planchers if they hope to make a serious financial recovery. State agencies have sovereign immunity, a legal concept that in this case would limit any financial payout to no more than $200,000 without approval by the state legislature. That’s a small penalty for allegedly causing the death of an otherwise healthy 19-year-old, especially stacked up against the millions in revenues the association takes in annually. That’s why I’m pleased that the trial court has declined to give the association protected status, in mediation or in the trial that’s scheduled for spring.

If you’ve lost someone you love to another person’s wrongdoing, you should talk to Cohn, Smith & Cohn about a wrongful death lawsuit. Many families don’t think about financial compensation right after a wrongful death — they’re too busy dealing with the emotional and financial aftermath. However, as time goes on, they often realize that the hole in their lives is complicated by a hole in their finances — the loss of an income, high accident-related bills and more. Our Pompano Beach wrongful death lawyers help families recover some of that money from the people who caused the death through their own actions. A wrongful death claim can also help families seek justice against a person or organization that was clearly negligent, as in this case. In addition to all of their accident-related bills, families can claim compensation for lost future earnings and the loss of their loved one’s care, comfort and support.

Cohn, Smith & Cohn offers free, confidential case evaluations, so you can speak to us at no further risk or obligation. To learn more or set up a free consultation, call us today at (954) 431-8100 or send us an email anytime.

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