Jury Finds UCFAA Negligent in Ereck Plancher's Death

The University of Central Florida Athletics Association has today been ruled negligent in the 2008 death of football player Ereck Plancher, with the jury awarding Plancher's parents $10 million.

The jury determined that the association was negligent and failed to do everything possible to save Plancher's life, but found no "clear and convincing evidence" that UCFAA was liable for gross negligence, thus sparing the association punitive damages. This latter finding, a UCF spokesman told the Orlando Sentinel, could well be the basis of the school's promised appeal.

Plancher, who was 19 years old, collapsed and died following offseason conditioning drills at the UCF football complex on March 18, 2008. Orange County medical examiner Joshua Stephany and three experts hired by the Plancher family's attorneys testified Plancher died from complications of sickle cell trait. However, three experts hired by the UCFAA testified that Plancher died from an undiagnosed heart condition and could not have been saved regardless of when athletic trainers intervened.

Plancher family attorney Steve Yerrid confirmed to the Sentinel that the Planchers turned down a settlement offer, and that UCFAA is responsible for the family's court costs, estimated to be $1.5 million. The UCF board of trustees submitted a motion seeking to bill the Plancher family $900,000 for its legal fees after the Planchers withdrew their claim with prejudice against the main university as the trial was about to begin.

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