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Blog Entry

$10 million not enough to replace Ereck Plancher

Posted on: July 1, 2011 12:51 am
Edited on: July 1, 2011 1:23 am
 
What's a life worth? A life that could easily have been saved.

Is it worth a coach's job? His AD's? Is it worth the entire Central Florida football program? Absolutely.

Is a life worth $10 million?

No, a life is priceless, precious. But a judgment had to be made Thursday night by a six-person jury that decided that the second-largest university in the country was essentially at fault in the death of Ereck Plancher.

Three years after their son's death and two weeks into the wrongful death lawsuit over it, Enock and Gisele Plancher got "justice." A $5 million award for each doesn't replace him, but it sends a powerful message to anyone in college athletics dumb enough not to be familiar with sickle cell trait by now.

Dumb, because the first documented case occurred at Colorado more than 35 years ago. Dumb, because the NCAA recently began mandatory testing (under certain conditions). Dumb, because even with all that preventable deaths mount.

Dumb, because among the first words from a school spokesman Thursday night was "appeal." The next news out of Central Florida should be the resignation of AD Keith Tribble and coach George O'Leary. If not resignation, then firing. The $10 million represents about a third of the school's athletic budget. 

A kid died on their watch during a damn offseason drill. Everything since then has been botched, bungled and embarrassing. The $10 million award makes it a landmark case in the history of sickle cell trait legal battles. Hopefully, someone other than the Plancher jury is paying attention.


Central Florida could have gotten some cheap, legal advice by simply getting on Google. Florida State, Missouri and Rice all settled similar cases. In May, the family of an Ole Miss player filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the school and NCAA. Once again, sickle cell trait is involved.
 
Instead, Central Florida took this one to the wall arguing, incredibly, that Plancher died due to a heart condition. Each side presented its own set of experts, but the moment Plancher's parents took the stand this trial was over. Their testimony was compelling, emotional, raw

Still, Central Florida pressed on. In the end, the jury needed only five hours to determine that the Central Florida Athletics Association was negligent and didn't do everything in its power to save Plancher's life. His parents got money, not justice. Maybe that was saved for future players whose coaches and trainers educate themselves because of this verdict.

Twenty-one players have died since 2000 directly due to exertional stress during non-contact drills. Sickle cell trait remains the leading killer of college football players since that year.


Oklahoma knows all about sickle trait. Its head trainer Scott Anderson is one of the leading authorities on the condition because he chooses to be. Several Sooners have played with the trait and gone on to win major awards. If you're educated and, well, care it's not that hard to deal with the sickle cell athlete. Essentially, they need to be acclimated and ease into strenuous exercise.


"I think [the verdict] was the right decision, absolutely," Anderson said. "Hopefully it will have some impact. Hopefully some people are sitting up and listening. Then again, I don't know why there hasn't been any impact with the other dead football players and the other millions of dollars paid out. It's been business as usual."


From the beginning this case had the vibe of an arrogant university diving into the deep end of the legal pool without water wings. High-powered attorney doesn't begin to describe the plaintiffs' lead counsel. Steve Yerrid is the lawyer who got a $11.4 billion settlement from the tobacco industry in 1997 while representing the state of Florida.

Yes, it might have been a good idea to settle. Now someone -- preferably more than one -- has to pay -- not with cash, but with their job.

Ten million isn't enough to bring back Ereck Plancher but it shouts to the world that sickle cell trait isn't dangerous. Ignorance to it is.


Comments

Since: Sep 29, 2007
Posted on: July 1, 2011 12:12 pm
 

$10 million not enough to replace Ereck Plancher

Tribble and O'Leary had as much authorization to settle this suit as did you or I.  I don't know what was offered, but that wasn't Tribble or O'Leary's decision.  This negligence suit (as any invovling an insurance policy) was run by the insurance carrier.  The carrier determines how the case is handled, including settlement discussions.  For instance, in a negligence suit arising out of a traffic accident, it is not the negligent driver's choice to settle the case.  It is the carrier's money, and their decision.  Read your auto insurance policy's section on litigation, that might give you an idea.   Before you call for them to resign, at least base it upon something within their control.  (And before you pat FSU on the back for taking responsibility, please realize that ten years later the Darling family still has not received a dime and FSU hasn't championed their pursuit of that settlement either.)

The finding of no gross negligence is significant because the Jury, after hearing all the evidence, found that the accusations made by Plancher's counsel that O'Leary withheld water and trainers were unfounded.  In the Jury's view this was a tragedy that UCFAA could have prevented, but it was not born out of maliciousness (as some media outlets reported).

However, what is lost in all this is what a great person Ereck Plancher was.  Enock & Giselle Plancher raised a fantastic son, an honor student (3.98 in HS, over 3.8 at UCF), who was a hard working, God-fearing, humble man.  His life was too short.  RIP.




Since: Jul 21, 2008
Posted on: July 1, 2011 12:10 pm
 

$10 million not enough to replace Ereck Plancher

Again Dodd is showing his a$$. The plaintiff's attorney after the trial said they did not want to settle and they told UCF that from the start. DO SOME RESEARCH YOU LAZY ATTENTION WHORE.



Since: Oct 2, 2006
Posted on: July 1, 2011 11:47 am
 

$10 million not enough to replace Ereck Plancher

C'mon, Dodd - you churned out an article without conducting adequate research.  Of course the loss of Ereck is huge and CANNOT be quantified.  But, at the end of the day, the jury found no gross negligence.  It's akin to a slip and fall at Wal-Mart.  Get with the program, bucko. 

Dodd consistently does articles without fact checking.  Which is why he does internet blogs where people can run loose with the truth.  He would never cut it as a real reporter, he is too lazy for that. 

Athletes who don't take responsibility when they know they have a health condition are even more to blame than anyone.  And parents who both had the sickle cell trait know, but won't tell their kid because he is their meal ticket?  The wouldn't settle with the university after numerous offers because they still wanted their payday.  And now everyone who is associated with the program must suffer for the next 10 years because of their greed, and their lawyers greed.  The deserved something.  But they were never reasonable.  A jury award with no gross negligence shows that their is plenty of blame to share, but sometimes tragedy happens.  We always want to blame someone, but somethings are tragic, but without the major blame.  I guess parents who send their kids to play major college football without thinking it might put a strain on their son's diseased body don't deserve some of the blame?  How can they have no guilt or no shame?  Ah, they have 10 million reasons, thats why.  It was about money, never about advocating about preventing anyone else from suffering the same tragedy. The only good that has come of this is their wallets getting fatter.  They need to do some real work to make some good come out of it, like being real advocates and helping educate people about sickle cell trait so it doesn't happen again unnecessarily.



Since: Feb 8, 2008
Posted on: July 1, 2011 10:44 am
 

$10 million not enough to replace Ereck Plancher

Dude:

A settlement is something both sides have to agreed to. You see, it's not a settlement until they agree to it. Who knows if UCF didn't offer $20 million? UCF's mistake was letting this thing get to trial in the first place. Hell, I wouldn't settle either after UCFAA's liability was uncapped.




Since: Feb 8, 2008
Posted on: July 1, 2011 10:44 am
 

$10 million not enough to replace Ereck Plancher

Dude:

A settlement is something both sides have to agreed to. You see, it's not a settlement until they agree to it. Who knows if UCF didn't offer $20 million? UCF's mistake was letting this thing get to trial in the first place. Hell, I wouldn't settle either after UCFAA's liability was uncapped.

 



Since: Feb 8, 2008
Posted on: July 1, 2011 10:41 am
 

$10 million not enough to replace Ereck Plancher

Ew:
Wow, they found no gross negligence! Let's have a party! A slip and fall at Wal-Mart? That's so insulting to the Plancher family that it doesn't deserve a response but I will give one anyway:

Read about sickle cell trait and how college athletics and the NCAA have ignored it for almost four decades. Then call the Planchers and apologize.

dd 



Since: Sep 19, 2010
Posted on: July 1, 2011 9:51 am
 

$10 million not enough to replace Ereck Plancher

Hey, everyone, look at me!  I'm a grandstanding pseudo-journalist looking to make a name for myself.  What?  You've never heard of me?  Well, hopefully you will now!  No, of course I didn't follow the case and present all of the facts in my article - that would've lessened the self-serving impact I was trying to make.  C'mon, I have a big mouth to feed.  I need this paycheck because if I lose this job then I'll be reduced to blogging for peanuts.

C'mon, Dodd - you churned out an article without conducting adequate research.  Of course the loss of Ereck is huge and CANNOT be quantified.  But, at the end of the day, the jury found no gross negligence.  It's akin to a slip and fall at Wal-Mart.  Get with the program, bucko. 



Since: Dec 28, 2006
Posted on: July 1, 2011 9:20 am
 

$10 million not enough to replace Ereck Plancher

It was sad.  The jury was compassionate.  It is hardly O'Leary's fault.  It could have happened anywhere.



Since: Jul 1, 2011
Posted on: July 1, 2011 8:44 am
 

$10 million not enough to replace Ereck Plancher

Let's just make it clear:  Yerrid said he turned down the settlement UCFAA offered, smelling the blood in the water going after a privatized college athletics department.  Also, the $10 million is because a trainer who knew Plancher had SCT didn't file paperwork OR tell the head trainer (hence, negligence).  She'll fall on the sword, UCFAA will make an appeal and that'll be the end.  

You never want to see a kid die under these circumstances, but the whole "O'Leary demanded water & trainers out of the fieldhouse" angle turned into a he-said-she-said when half the witnesses were kicked off the team for their own stupidity and had an axe to grind (the prosecution) and the other half are players who have playing time to worry about (Ronnie Weaver), are currently on the UCF Football staff (Rocky Ross) or, in Bruce Miller's case, share an agent with O'Leary (the defense).  You can't fire O'Leary for this one (as much as I'd love to see David Kelly take over as head coach) because, as he and Tribble have said, he has no control over the sports medicine staff.  He expects them to keep him up to speed with who may be at risk and when the paperwork isn't filed and not even the head trainer is told, what can you do?



Since: Mar 15, 2011
Posted on: July 1, 2011 8:13 am
 

Jobs

When is ucf going to dump their AD and head coach after this huge negligence case?  Time to clean house down there.


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