Blog Entry

Central Florida sickle cell lawsuit goes to trial

Posted on: June 10, 2011 12:46 pm
Edited on: June 10, 2011 1:05 pm
A more than three-year legal battle involving the death of a former Central Florida player will proceed to trial on Monday.

The school lost its final legal challenge this week allowing the wrongful death lawsuit of the family of Ereck Plancher to go before a jury. Plancher, 19, collapsed and later died from complications of sickle cell trait in March 2008 following a strenuous offseason workout at the school. The family is seeking unspecified damages.

A circuit court this week denied Central Florida's request for a new judge to preside over the trial. School attorneys argued that circuit judge Robert Evans comments about Knights coach George O'Leary were prejudicial.

During a May ruling, Evans said, " ... Coach O'Leary doesn't seem to be the sharpest knife in the drawer ..." Central Florida previously argued that the jury shouldn't be told the school did not inform Plancher's parents of their son's condition because it would have violated federal privacy laws.

"They are devastated," family attorney J.D. Dowell said of Plancher's parents. "Obviously a parent is not supposed to outlive their child.

Along the way, the family won a key ruling in March. A former teammate of Plancher's said O'Leary banned water and banished trainers prior to Plancher's collapse. Based on that information, a judge said the family could proceed with an uncapped punitive damages lawsuit against the school. Florida law typically caps compensation in such wrongful death cases at $200,000.

Two recent, similar high-profile cases involving deaths due to sickle cell trait ended in settlements by the schools. Missouri settled with the family of player Aaron O'Neal for $2 million in 2009. That same year, Rice and the NCAA settled with the family of player Dale Lloyd II. As a result of that settlement, the NCAA agreed to mandate sickle cell trait testing under certain conditions and start an education program.

Since then, the NCAA has been sued again over the issue. The association and Ole Miss were named in a wrongful death lawsuit filed last month by the family of former Mississippi player Bennie Abram. Abram died in February 2010 following an early offseason workout due to complications from sickle cell trait. 

Abram was the 21st NCAA football player to die from a non-traumatic event since 2000. Eleven of those deaths have come in Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS). Sickle cell trait remains the leading killer of Division I football players since that year.

The trial is expected to last three weeks.
Category: NCAAF

Since: Sep 1, 2008
Posted on: June 11, 2011 2:27 pm

Central Florida sickle cell lawsuit goes to trial

He should not have died it's very sad. But just about every African American knows what sickle cell is by the age of 15. You have to get all of your shots and numerous physicals before getting into a sport.  And to say he could not stop on his own is nonsense. People act like athletes are brainless zombies sometimes. I don't care how you view someone by how they talk to pass high school and remain in college takes some level of intelligence.

What I'm saying is it's both sides fault but the finger is going to get pointed at UCF. All he had to do was stop once again and if you carry the trait for Sickle Cell trust me your parents will have known if it runs in the family.

Since: Dec 25, 2006
Posted on: June 11, 2011 11:27 am

Central Florida sickle cell lawsuit goes to trial

First of all, it is hard for a college athlete to stop on his own.  Secondly, he was just a kid and he may not really have fully understood the significance of having the Sicklle Cell Trait.  I doubt he knew over-doing it could and would break down his blood to such a state it would shut down his system.  The onus was on the team, specificantly, the trainers and coaches.  They, the coaches and trainers, should have erred on the side of caution and sat him down and properly hydrated him.  Bottom line is he should not have died on the practice field.

Since: Sep 1, 2008
Posted on: June 11, 2011 10:25 am

Central Florida sickle cell lawsuit goes to trial

I don't like cases like this I always feel one side gets the finger pointed at them.  All he had to do was not do the workout Iv'e played sports, done a little bit of ROTC, and I enjoy hardcore group workouts.  Even if someone is yelling in your face calling you anything if you can't do something there's nothing they can do if you decide to stop.  It's his fault for not stopping and going hey coaches I have sickle cell it can be fatal to continue this.

Even if he was scarred of getting kicked of the team he should have valued his health first.

Since: Dec 25, 2006
Posted on: June 10, 2011 10:12 pm

Central Florida sickle cell lawsuit goes to trial

As a UCF fan and grad, I think UCF is wrong in this case.  Everything they did that day at practice was stupid, especially given the fact that Plancher had the sickle cell trait.  He was tested by UCF, so they knew.  It was UCF's responsibility to educate all of the coaches, especially O'Leary and the the trainers.  They should have been better educated and his death should never have happened.  UCF should have already settled with the parents.  In the end, they will still get a huge settlement and the lawyers for UCF will get a lot of money.  UCF could have worded it any way they wanted, but they should have already settled with the parents.  They could have saved a little face and done the right thing by settleing with the Planchers.

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