Blog Entry

Jury awards $10 million to Ereck Plancher family

Posted on: July 1, 2011 12:32 am
Edited on: July 1, 2011 2:19 pm
 

Posted by Adam Jacobi

A jury in the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court in Florida decided Thursday to award $10 million to the parents of late University of Central Florida football player Ereck Plancher more than three years after Plancher died during workouts in March 2008. The jury found the University of Central Florida Athletic Association (UCFAA) negligent in Plancher's death, which an Orange County medical examiner determined was due to complications from sickle cell trait. The jury did not find gross negligence on UCFAA's part, eliminating the need for additional punitive damages. 

As the Orlando Sentinel reports, the Plancher family's lawyer emphasized the importance of player safety:

"If there's one message that we have sent very loudly and clearly, the welfare of any student athlete is at the top of any football program," Plancher family attorney Steve Yerrid said. "And that's how to have a winning program."

The Planchers declined to speak immediately after the verdict, allowing Yerrid to make a statement on their behalf.

Yerrid confirmed late Thursday night the Planchers turned down a settlement offer and UCFAA is responsible for the family's court costs. He estimated those could be about $1.5 million.

This ruling will probably not end the saga once and for all, however. Central Florida only has $8.5 million budgeted for football for the entire year, so it remains to be seen where the $10 million would come from. Additionally, that figure might not be what UCF ends up paying after the case is all said and done; UCF attorneys plan to appeal the decision, citing what they feel is "an ample of appeal opportunity" throughout the trial's proceedings. 

The two parties continued to disagree Friday, with Yerrid telling CBSSports.com's Dennis Dodd that UCF had turned down an offer to settle the case for the sum of $4.7 million. UCF spokesman Grant Heston vehemently denied Yerrid's claim, calling the after-the-fact allegation "very poor form" and adding that Yerrid's settlement offer had been well above the final $10 million number.

UCFAA lawyers contended throughout the trial that Plancher's death could not have been caused by sickle cell trait, producing Boston University hematologist Dr. Martin Steinberg to testify to that claim, and that Plancher's death was the result of a previously unknown heart condition and thus unpreventable. The jury evidently did not agree with that assessment, though it's possible they agreed that head coach George O'Leary -- who some former players testified had punished Plancher in ways that might have contributed to his death -- bore no responsibility.

"I think the fact that punitive damages were not awarded shows that there was no credence to allegations that Coach [George] O'Leary withheld water or ordered trainers out [of the football facility]," Heston told CBSSports.com.

Comments

Since: Apr 28, 2008
Posted on: July 1, 2011 11:59 pm
 

Jury awards $10 million to Ereck Plancher family

Would like to reply to gmag:
Um....I agree with you. On every point. 



Since: Oct 22, 2007
Posted on: July 1, 2011 5:01 pm
 

Jury awards $10 million to Ereck Plancher family

if you can't afford health insurance then you shouldn't be playing any sport - period.



Undecided



Since: Dec 25, 2006
Posted on: July 1, 2011 4:25 pm
 

Jury awards $10 million to Ereck Plancher family

CWergs, UCF did evidently test him for the sickle cell and/or the trait.  How else would they know?  That was one of the contentions of the Plancher family when they denied knowledge that they or their son had the trait. 
I don't know what world you live in, but many kids come from families that cannot or do not have health insurance.  There are, also, a lot of people driving who do not have insurance plus much more that have so poor coverage that people who can afford auto insuarnce will have to foot the bill because the others don't care whether you sue them or not as they have little or nothing.
You and I are not going to agree and i am most likely older than you and I did play high school sports.  At our high school they did give us physicals (not in-depth) and it was, most likely, done for free (no cost or very little cost to the hs) by a family doctor well known in our school.
Oh yeah, if those athletes who could not afford physicals did not play for their high schools there would be some very weak teams.
As for mandating physicals, I don't know what the NCAA mandates so maybe some schools test more than others.



Since: Oct 2, 2006
Posted on: July 1, 2011 4:03 pm
 

Jury awards $10 million to Ereck Plancher family

I am sure colleges give a lot more in-depth physical and that is how UCF and, possibly, Ereck Plancher knew he had the trait.
Schools do NOT test for sickle cell - nor do the give EKGs or heart tests either...  sure they give a physical, but it's not as in depth as you think

How many young athletes, black or white or whatever ethnic background, can afford an in-depth physical?  Some of those kids may not even have a family physician and/or  health insurance.
The vast majority of them.... if you can't afford health insurance then you shouldn't be playing any sport - period.  Just like if you can't afford car insurance you don't get a license... same concept.

Two things that make it the responsibility of the school to test their athletes.  One, they invest a lot of time and money.  Secondly,and more importantly, the athlete should know along with the school if he is at risk.
You're two points actually support that student's that believe their at risk for these issues should have testing done.  Schools already spend a ton of money on these kids, more than half that will ever see the field....  you want them to spend even more now?  You may as well eliminate football from every school but 50 if you want to mandate this type of testing sport wide. 

Also, the school may mourn for these kids when these horrific situations arise, but the school will move on....  that's why it's the parents/athlete's responsibility to test if they have concerns.  Shouldn't these test be conducted prior to even playing high school football anyways?  High schoolers go through these type of work out conditions.... should high schools start paying for these tests also?  Maybe our tax dollars?

Bottom line - take responsibility for your own health and own well-being - it's not everyone else's job to do it for you....

CWergs



Since: Dec 25, 2006
Posted on: July 1, 2011 2:36 pm
 

Jury awards $10 million to Ereck Plancher family

  1. dpreach1 even high school athletes have to have a physical prior to playing hs sports.  I am sure colleges give a lot more in-depth physical and that is how UCF and, possibly, Ereck Plancher knew he had the trait.  How many young athletes, black or white or whatever ethnic background, can afford an in-depth physical?  Some of those kids may not even have a family physician and/or  health insurance. 
  2. Two things that make it the responsibility of the school to test their athletes.  One, they invest a lot of time and money.  Secondly,and more importantly, the athlete should know along with the school if he is at risk.



Since: Dec 25, 2006
Posted on: July 1, 2011 2:25 pm
 

Jury awards $10 million to Ereck Plancher family

If my memory is correct, I think this was an off-season workout and, most likely, no more stressful than most off-season workouts.  It is a tragedy a young athlete had to lose his life.  There was a lot of conflicting testamony from players and experts in the medical field.  We all know both sides can go out and get an "expert" in the field who will side with them.  What hurt UCF was the fact that a Orange County medical examiner Joshua Stephany put cause of death as attributed to Plancher's Sickle cell trait.  
Ereck Plancher had been with the team for at least a year and, as such, had participated in several practices.  Add the fact, he was a pretty good high school athlete who carried most of the load for his hs team offensively that UCF, possibly and sadly, ignored when he was really in distress.  No way, Coach O'Leary or anyone at UCF would have knowingly pushed him to his death.  Possibly unknown to UCF was the fact that Plancher could have been under the weather, under-hydrated prior to practice or several other reasons (we all have good and bad days).  Whatever, a bad chain of events led to his death.
Citing todays Orlando Sentinel's Mike Bianchi- "Since 2000, 21 college football players have died--- 19 of those while participating in off-season conditioning drills."  Certainly, something must be done to protect athletes who may have risks.  If nothing else, Ereck Plancher's unfortunate death should help other such athletes.
Similiarly, this happened at Florida State and Florida under Bobby Bowden and steve Spurrier, respectively.  The only difference being they were not present at the workouts like George O'Leary.  In defense of O'Leary, he is a more hands on coach and he was present.
Athletes push themselves, and good athletes push themselves more.  Point is, this could have happened when Ereck Plancher was working out by himself or with friends. 
It is hard to put a dollar figure on a human life.  I am conflicted on this because UCF did have knowledge of the Sickle Cell trait.  On the other hand, was that practice any difference ffrom most of the other off-season conditioning drills?  Maybe, people with either the trait or actual Sickle Cell disease can comment on just what is the difference between the two.  I would think a person with Sickle Cell, not the triat, would be highly discouraged from playing strenuos sports.  A black friend of mine who has the trait and plays a pretty good game of tennis didn't think that having the trait, by itself, would have killed Ereck Plancher.  That same guy also coaches high school sports.




Since: Nov 8, 2010
Posted on: July 1, 2011 1:08 pm
 

Jury awards $10 million to Ereck Plancher family

It's always tragic when parents lose a child.  These particular parents will never see that $10 million dollars. Bank on that.  
Does it do justice to their child's memory to spend years in courtrooms and with lawyers trying to lay blame and collect a huge
settlement?  Why should the University pay $10 million dollars?  Will it bring the boy back?  Will it "teach the University a lesson"?
Will it "enrich the lives" of the greiving parents?  No, no, and NO.
As for George O'leary, give it a rest already.  If all you've done bad in your life is "lie on your resume", you are a freaking SAINT.
I doubt that is the extent of O'leary's sins, but relatively speaking, I think it's a fairly minor infraction, and folks ought to look at the
body of his work instead of focusing on "the one thing he did wrong".  
America is INSANELY INSISTANT on assigning blame, and extracting a "penalty" commesurate with any infraction, real or imagined.  
The time, money & energy could most often be used more wisely, IMO.  


draper1997
Since: Apr 16, 2009
Posted on: July 1, 2011 12:53 pm
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator




Since: Oct 2, 2006
Posted on: July 1, 2011 12:47 pm
 

Jury awards $10 million to Ereck Plancher family

You can't ask schools to test for sickle cell - the costs would be unbearable for many of the smaller schools.  Go beyond just Div-1 football, think of all the D-2, D-3, and NAIA schools that don't have the big budgets the top 30 schools do.  A mandate to force schools to test for sickle sell would simply mean scholarships to everyone would suffer, especially the ones that would only get partial funding.

Not to be cold, but the next problem you'd run into is: "Hey coach - I can't finish these last sprints - I have sickle cell you know".  How well is that going to go over with the team and coaches?

It should be up to the player to know his medical conditions, not the schools and not the coaches....  then the player can determine if football is worth the risk.

CWergs



Since: Nov 17, 2007
Posted on: July 1, 2011 12:16 pm
 

Jury awards $10 million to Ereck Plancher family

Notre Dame only had to pay $42,000 for the kid that died trying to take videos during practice.

Go Figger. 


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