Wrongful Death Suit Filed Over University Failure to Read Admission Questionnaire

If a college fields a team of athletes, they need to know if they are healthy. Someone did not read this student’s admission questionnaire.

This reported case is another example of a death that should have never happened. The admissions staff at Western Carolina University did not take the time to properly read each student’s admission form. Because they did not read the forms closely enough, a young football athlete died.

The wrongful death lawsuit filed by the young man’s family pointed a finger at the university and the coaching staff, stating that they were negligent in regards to the death of their son.

The young man was only 20 years old when he arrived at the university and played as a defensive back. He was told by the university doctor that it was ok to take part in weightlifting and conditioning drills without any limitations. One day later, the young man died during practice. Autopsy results showed he died due to acute lethal cardiac dysrhythmia with other contributing factors such as sickle cell trait and overexertion.

The lawsuit stated that his admission questionnaire relating to athletics indicated he had sickle cell trait. The student signed that form as did his mother. Thus, the university doctor and coaches knew or should have known he had sickle cell trait. Oddly, the university denied the allegations in one breath, and then in another, said the student had completed a form that listed sickle cell trait, which raises the question why they did not make themselves aware of what the disease meant to their athlete.

In this case, the student’s workout was weight lifting, 160 yards of striding two 60-yard sprints, two 70-yard sprints, two 80-yard sprints and two 90-yard sprints. He got into trouble on the last of his 90-yard sprints and subsequently collapsed and died.

When an athlete with sickle cell trait trains intensely, the red blood cells form into a shape like a sickle, which blocks the flow of blood to the muscles, causing lactic acidosis and ischemic rhabdomyolysis with hyperkalemia. The acidosis directly affects the heart by causing ventricular fibrillation, causing a heart attack. While athletes with this condition may play sports, there need to be the right kind of accommodations in place for them to deal it such as longer recovery times between repetitions, a gradually increasing drill time and oxygen on hand.

Will this family succeed in their wrongful death lawsuit? There is a good chance that they will, as the evidence shows the university: failed to make sure coaching and medical staff knew about and understood what exertional sickling was and how to work with it; failed to tell the student how to train safely; and failed to put safety measures in place, among other things.

Families that lose a family member like this should seek legal counsel in the form of an experienced Atlanta personal injury lawyer. Wrongful death lawsuits are civil cases and subject to a statute of limitations. Calling an Atlanta personal injury attorney as soon as possible will mean justice may be served promptly.

Robert Webb is an Atlanta personal injury lawyer with Webb & D’Orazio, a law firm specializing in Atlanta personal injury, malpractice, criminal defense, and business law. Learn more at Webbdorazio.com.

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