Parents of a Tennessee State University football player have brought a wrongful death lawsuit against the college. They claim that the college failed to follow generally accepted protocol by failing to have an external defibrillator present while football practice was going on.
The parents are seeking a $5 million verdict as part of the lawsuit. The majority of what they seek may not be allowable under Tennessee law, however, as a ceiling of $300,000 has been placed upon wrongful death claims.
We generally do not get the full story by what is printed up in the newspapers in any case, and we will have to await the outcome of the trial to get a better idea as to what occurred. Sometimes these sorts of lawsuits result in a large verdict, sometimes the cases are settled, and in some circumstances the plaintiffs do not receive any sort of compensation.
The young man may have been suffering from a heart condition at the time that he collapsed on the field. One physician stated that in many similar type cases, a pre-screening could possibly have alerted the player to the condition.
Perhaps even more importantly, as there have been many other similar instances in the past, it is foreseeable for athletic programs at colleges to have knowledge that these sorts of instances can occur. When events are foreseeable, it is often necessary for institutions to take actions to prevent such occurrences from happening.
These are not always easy cases for attorneys to prove up, however. Institutions being sued often have a great deal of money at their disposal to defend wrongful death type lawsuits, and sometimes officials can point to other defenses like an assumption of risk when a fatality happens. It generally takes an attorney experienced in this area to clue clients in regarding realistic expectations for the outcomes of these types of trials.
Source: Memphis Business Journal, "Tennessee couple seeks $5 million from Tennessee State in wrongful death complaint," by Cole Epley, May 3, 2013