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Player's Death at Ole Miss Results in Wrongful Death Lawsuit


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5/21/2011
Gerry Oginski
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A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed against the University of Mississippi, football coach Houston Nutt, and the NCAA for the death of Bennie Abram, 20, a university football player. The lawsuit also includes "gross negligence, medical malpractice and a violation of civil rights."

On February 19, Abram, a walk-on safety, collapsed during the first formal offseason workout. He died a few hours later at Baptist Memorial Hospital in Oxford, Mississippi from complications due to sickle cell trait.

The university has yet to respond to the lawsuit, but it has claimed that its employees did not do anything wrong.

After the NCAA proclaimed mandatory sickle cell trait testing last year, the team was aware that Abram carried the trait. This trait does not preclude participating in athletics and it is normally not symptomatic. However, strenuous exercise might "occasionally trigger sever problems." For this reason, the NCAA has mandated that sickle cell players are given a "slow and gradual" workout routine. They are ordered to "stop immediately upon struggling."

But the lawsuit claims that the workout that triggered Abram's collapse was "carelessly and recklessly excessive." It claims that Abram was not given proper medical attention, but was pushed to continue. Also named in the lawsuit on Tuesday were assistant coaches, trainers, the team doctor, and the hospital. It seems the civil rights claim has to do with the fact that 8% of African-Americans in America carry the sickle cell trait.

One of the lawyers on Abram's case also represented Rice player Dale Lloyd II, whose 2006 death triggered the NCAA to mandate sickle cell trait testing.

If this case were pending in New York, the victim's family would have to prove that the coaches, trainers and team doctors knew or should have known that this was likely to occur in light of having the sickle cell trait. If they had no way of knowing, or  if the sickle cell trait had been identified as having a contributory factor to a premature death in some limited instances, the defense may be able to claim that the risk of this happening were so low as to be insignificant. I'm curious to learn the outcome of this case against the University of Mississippi.

If you would like more information about how medical malpractice and accident cases work in the state of New York, I encourage you to explore my educational website http://www.oginski-law.com. If you have legal questions,  I urge you to pick up the phone and call me at 516-487-8207 or by e-mail at [email protected] to answer your questions. That's what I do every day. I welcome your call.


Category: Wrongful Death


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