Ole Miss Alerted to Sickle Cell Claim

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A law firm representing the family of Bennie Abram, who died last year during a football practice at the University of Mississippi, notified the school today of its intention to file a $10 million lawsuit.

Abram, a walk-on junior defensive back, collapsed and died Feb. 19, 2010, the first day of spring practice. An autopsy report showed that the 20-year-old's death was due to complications from sickle cell trait with exertion and a contributing factor of cardiomegaly, an inflammation of the heart.

The Lanier Law Firm, which negotiated a landmark 2009 settlement with the NCAA following the death of Rice University football player Dale R. Lloyd II, who also had sickle cell trait, is representing the Abram family.

According to Lanier attorney Gene Egdorf, Ole Miss officials have said the university began testing athletes for sickle cell trait starting in 1989, and that the school knew about Abram's condition. However, Egdorf says the Abram family wasn't made aware of the results or the potential ramifications of the diagnosis.

Other schools, including North Carolina A&T, have recently suffered consequences surrounding student-athletes affected by sickle cell trait.

"Student-athletes shouldn't be dying because of sickle cell," Egdorf stated in a release. "The only reason that it turns fatal is because someone along the way made mistakes or intentionally disregarded the well-established guidelines for training, monitoring and treating these student-athletes."

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