In its ruling of May 28, 2015, the Florida Supreme Court partially uphold the Fifth District Court of Appeals’ holding that the University of Central Florida Athletics Association (UCFAA) is entitled to limited sovereign immunity under Fla. Stat. 768.28. However, the court quashed the statement of the Fifth District Court of Appeals reducing the award to $200,000.00 and rather limited UCFAA’s liability for payment to $200,000.00.
Back in 2008, Ereck Plancher, a UCF football player, collapsed and tragically died during football practice conditioning drills due to complications of a sickle-cell condition. After his death, Ereck’s parents (the Planchers) filed a negligence action against UCF and UCFAA. The Trial Court The trial court denied UCFAA’s motion for summary judgment, which had argued that UCFAA is entitled to limited sovereign immunity under section 768.28 of the Florida Statutes (2008). The trial court ruled “that the undisputed evidence demonstrated that UCFAA had not been substantially controlled by UCF in either day-to-day decisions or major programmatic decisions.” Subsequently, the jury found UCFAA liable and awarded the Planchers damages in the amount of $10 million. On appeal, the Fifth District Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s judgment holding that UCFAA is entitled to limited sovereign immunity and reduced the jury award to $200,000.00. The whole opinion can be found here.
According to the researchers from the National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research, an average of 12 high school and college football players die each year during practices and games. The researchers studied 243 football deaths recorded between July 1990 and June 2010. One hundred of the fatalities resulted from an underlying heart condition, 62 were due to a brain injury – typically a subdural hematoma – and 38 were from heat-related causes, according to findings published in The American Journal of Sports Medicine.
After heart, brain and heat-related conditions, 11 players – all African Americans with sickle cell trait – died from sickle cell crises during intense conditioning. People with sickle cell trait carry one copy of the gene for sickle cell disease, rather than two, but they can be especially vulnerable to dehydration and low oxygen, for example. 7 players died from asthma, 7 from a sudden blow to the chest, 5 from a blood clot and the rest from broken necks, abdominal injuries, infections and lightning, Frederick Mueller from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and his colleagues found.
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