Football Player’s Family Awarded $10M in Wrongful Death Lawsuit

A Florida jury has awarded $10 million in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of a college football player who died during intense training. 

Enoch and Gisele Plancher filed the complaint against the University of Central Florida Athletics Association (UCFAA) after their son, Ereck Plancher, died during offseason conditioning training on March 18, 2008.

According to the lawsuit, Plancher died from organ damage caused by the stress of the training, which caused his red blood cells to warp because he had the sickle cell trait. The original lawsuit included the school’s board of trustees, but they were dropped from the claim last month.

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Plancher was a 19-year-old freshman and honor roll student at University of Central Florida, playing wide receiver on a football scholarship.

The lawsuit claimed that the university tested Plancher before his death and discovered he had sickle cell anemia, but did not inform him or his parents. The university argued that he had signed two medical waivers, but the plaintiffs pointed out that he had no choice but to sign the waivers, because not doing so would have meant the loss of his scholarship.

Sickle cell anemia has been known to cause sudden death in football players in the past. Although the school maintains that they did in fact inform Plancher of his condition, the plaintiffs had deposition testimony from UCF’s head athletic trainer, who could not recall informing Plancher of his condition.

The jury found the UCFAA liable for Plancher’s death and awarded $10 million in damages, but determined that punitive damages were not appropriate. The legal team for Plancher’s parents also intends to ask for the university to pay $1.5 million in legal fees, since the UCFAA turned down a previous $4.75 million settlement. The UCFAA has indicated it intends to appeal the verdict.


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