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'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


Since: Dec 23, 2010
Posted on: July 1, 2011 11:44 am

Jury awards $10 million to Ereck Plancher family

Totaly liar

Since: Jan 2, 2007
Posted on: July 1, 2011 11:09 am

Jury awards $10 million to Ereck Plancher family


Since: Jan 9, 2008
Posted on: July 1, 2011 10:36 am

Jury awards $10 million to Ereck Plancher family

Just curious what you all think.  Why is it that the school is responsible for testing for sickel cell?  It seems to me that I am responsible for my health.  If I want to play a sport, the I should be responsible for making sure that I can do it and assume the risk of playing.  What happened to personal responsibility in this country.  Heck, even the Viagra commercials say check with your doctor to make sure that you are healthy enough for sex.  I say, if you play sports, make sure you check with your doctor and take responsibility for your own health. 

Since: Jul 1, 2011
Posted on: July 1, 2011 10:09 am

Jury awards $10 million to Ereck Plancher family

Well look, young men who die in the prime of their life tend to get much higher settlements than someone who is 70.
In addition, and this will prompt this, they should be screening for sickle cell trait before putting them through these workouts, they do in the military. 

Since: Jun 8, 2008
Posted on: July 1, 2011 9:33 am

Jury awards $10 million to Ereck Plancher family

10 million dollars ... I'd hate to see what gross negligence would fetch, lol.

Since: Nov 3, 2010
Posted on: July 1, 2011 6:26 am

Jury awards $10 million to Ereck Plancher family

Boy, do I stand corrected on this story.  At first I thought it was nothing more than a money grab.  Yes, I know it's a tragedy when a young man dies and it affects everyone he came in contact with.  I immediately went to the spilled coffee in the lap angle.  I mean in this day and age when everyone is watching, how could a coach or trainer not provide water or gatorade to players during a workout?  Who does that?  But when three players testify to just that, my stomach churns at O'Leary and his irresponsibility.  All the lies previously mentioned about his resume et al, he should never be allowed on a college campus again.   

Since: Jun 5, 2011
Posted on: July 1, 2011 6:08 am

Jury awards $10 million to Ereck Plancher family

So, you're saying that because O'Leary told a lie on his resume years ago, that you can never trust anything he says for the rest of his life?  I'm sure everyone has lied at least once in his or her life.  Does that mean we can't ever trust anything that anyone says?  
On the field, O'Leary doesn't do anything that 90 percent of successful football coaches don't do.  The only thing that makes him different is that a tragedy happened on his watch.  As anyone who has ever taught or learned about medical errors knows, it is the system that needs to be addressed: not the people involved.  
I would ban anyone with the sickle cell trait from playing any sport that requires cardiovascular training or weight training. Then, of course, there would be a class action suit for "violating their rights," becuase too many parents see their athletically-gifted children as their "meal tickets."  The only way everybody wins here is if coaches just don't offer athletic scholarships to kids with the sickle cell trait.  If the NCAA really cares, they could have a scholarship fund especially for players found to have the trait so that they can get an education without risking their lives.

Since: Aug 20, 2009
Posted on: July 1, 2011 5:13 am

Jury awards $10 million to Ereck Plancher family

Same Coach that Lied to Notre Dame on his resume!!  How can he take the stand and be credible?  He is a documented LIAR?  Crazy

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