Blog Entry

Jury awards $10 million to Ereck Plancher family

Posted on: July 1, 2011 12:32 am
Edited on: July 1, 2011 2:19 pm

Posted by Adam Jacobi

A jury in the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court in Florida decided Thursday to award $10 million to the parents of late University of Central Florida football player Ereck Plancher more than three years after Plancher died during workouts in March 2008. The jury found the University of Central Florida Athletic Association (UCFAA) negligent in Plancher's death, which an Orange County medical examiner determined was due to complications from sickle cell trait. The jury did not find gross negligence on UCFAA's part, eliminating the need for additional punitive damages. 

As the Orlando Sentinel reports, the Plancher family's lawyer emphasized the importance of player safety:

"If there's one message that we have sent very loudly and clearly, the welfare of any student athlete is at the top of any football program," Plancher family attorney Steve Yerrid said. "And that's how to have a winning program."

The Planchers declined to speak immediately after the verdict, allowing Yerrid to make a statement on their behalf.

Yerrid confirmed late Thursday night the Planchers turned down a settlement offer and UCFAA is responsible for the family's court costs. He estimated those could be about $1.5 million.

This ruling will probably not end the saga once and for all, however. Central Florida only has $8.5 million budgeted for football for the entire year, so it remains to be seen where the $10 million would come from. Additionally, that figure might not be what UCF ends up paying after the case is all said and done; UCF attorneys plan to appeal the decision, citing what they feel is "an ample of appeal opportunity" throughout the trial's proceedings. 

The two parties continued to disagree Friday, with Yerrid telling's Dennis Dodd that UCF had turned down an offer to settle the case for the sum of $4.7 million. UCF spokesman Grant Heston vehemently denied Yerrid's claim, calling the after-the-fact allegation "very poor form" and adding that Yerrid's settlement offer had been well above the final $10 million number.

UCFAA lawyers contended throughout the trial that Plancher's death could not have been caused by sickle cell trait, producing Boston University hematologist Dr. Martin Steinberg to testify to that claim, and that Plancher's death was the result of a previously unknown heart condition and thus unpreventable. The jury evidently did not agree with that assessment, though it's possible they agreed that head coach George O'Leary -- who some former players testified had punished Plancher in ways that might have contributed to his death -- bore no responsibility.

"I think the fact that punitive damages were not awarded shows that there was no credence to allegations that Coach [George] O'Leary withheld water or ordered trainers out [of the football facility]," Heston told


Since: Sep 28, 2008
Posted on: July 5, 2011 11:19 am

Jury awards $10 million to Ereck Plancher family

Bottom line... UCF medical trainers knew he had the sickle cell trait. The Administration knew he had the sickle cell trait. The school was required by law to sit down with the athlete and explain the risks and the side effects of having the triat, so they know to monitor themselves during intense workouts (most athletes dont know until this point in their lives). The negligence was derived from that. As to whether the amount was fair or not is determined ether by a mediation or a jury of our peers...They made a decision based on the facts of the case so in that sense it is fair. no one here can argue otherwise. The school will appeal, the family will renegotiate for a lesser amount and this will disappear. The end.

Since: Sep 5, 2010
Posted on: July 4, 2011 12:08 pm

Jury awards $10 million to Ereck Plancher family

@Gator1066... your commentary is without logic and attempts to use exceptions as normal rules.  To ask the question, 'what is a life' worth, well, no one can answer that question but you are indeed correct there are experts that actually get paid to determine such things.  The fact you included that ...
20 year football player at a D-1 college could make clost to 10 million dollars during the course of their life
is completely ludicrous.  Less than 0.01% of even D-1 players will ever make a dime playing football - EVER - let alone a WR recruit that never saw playing time at a program that is considered nothing more than average.
You then include that...

Throw in the negligence, pain and suffering, and everything that UCF potentially did wrong in this case, they should be happy it is only 10 million. NOt long ago cases like this would bring in 30, 50, even 70 million dollar settlements.
Notice how you said "potentially did wrong".  That comment is completely false.  It can't and never will be proven. As a matter of fact the exact opposite could be proven as well - that UCF had ZERO negligence in this issue.  So how do you then randomly and flippantly determine that "10 million" is an amount they should be happy with???

Your other comments about testing for SC and being good overall for the sport is simply pie-in-the-sky and ignorant commentary.  Why would college athletic programs be required to test for a disease that less than 0.0001% of the world's population even carries the trait - let alone the actual disease.  Additionally, who is going to pay for this?  And lastly, if one of these kids are then deemed to have the trait would it then be legal to rescind their scholarship due to their health liability?  That is, without someone like you thinking they can’t be sued for that as well???

I'm a bed-wetting liberal and I don't even agree with your skewed sense of logic and assumptive yet highly inadequate basis of determinations.  As a matter of fact, I think the only person(s) that would agree with you have (a) no knowledge of our legal system, (b) like to sue people, (c) a really bad attorney and/or (d) is just waxing poetic about a topic they know nothing about while on a sports blog.

I don’t mean to be so rough but seriously, your commentary is pretty much clueless yet you write in a fashion like you are an expert.  I just want to make sure that people know the difference.

Since: May 9, 2009
Posted on: July 3, 2011 3:19 pm

Jury awards $10 million to Ereck Plancher family

Okay I am confused. I thought CF tested the kid for sickle cell. Some schools do have the test and the fault was because they didnt tell the kid he had it. I thought that was the smoking gun and the fact that because they knew it and didnt tell the kid that made the workout even more outrageous. Money wont bring him back...of course not but the family does deserve compensation because it is the school's responsibility to at least, within reason, take care of the young man. I think the other smoking gun was the coroner. CF is appealing it and who knows what will happen between now and when that is heard...could be years. My guess is the family will settle for a lesser amount to expedite the payment. Dont know...just a guess. I also think the award is excessive. As for GeorgeOLeary...all of my brothers, husband and son all played sports. At one time the coaches did exactly what he did about withholding water. In Tennessee they had several players nearly die from heat exhaustion and dehydration so there is a law here about how what the temperature can be and under no circumstances can a coach withhold water. That is abuse to me anyway.

Since: Oct 6, 2006
Posted on: July 3, 2011 11:08 am

Jury awards $10 million to Ereck Plancher family

Sad story...truly unfortunate for the kid who died, the pain of loss for the Family and drama for the Program.  I'm going to cut straight to is the Parent's responsibility, first of all, to know the health of their children and if you know your kids have some medical condition you need to stay on top of it reguardless of your kids age.

If they didn't know of a 'medical condition, it's a different story.  Prior to the beginning of training camp, the programs should have mandatory check ups.  I'm a Soldier, I'm 44, and we have to have medical check-ups yearly now.

As for the Parents and trying to break UCF off...they will have to deal with their intentions in getting this money.  I have my opinion on it...    

Since: Oct 16, 2009
Posted on: July 3, 2011 1:11 am

Jury awards $10 million to Ereck Plancher family

I mostly have to agree with those on here that say "take responsibility for your own health," as it should be up to you to take the risk of playing high-level sports if you have a medical condition. On the other hand, if my son grows up and is gifted in athletics, should I take his dream of playing sports away from him because he needed heart surgery at 4 months, and I'm worried about what the training would do to him? Or should I be able to rely on the program he joins to not be so strenuous that his life is at risk?

I'm kind of torn on this one -- because I know that $10 million would not be a substitute for the life of a son, and knowing that I'd enabled this to happen by allowing him to play with a condition would be even harder to bear.

I think I'll settle on this. Know the risks you're incurring -- and take them if you need to in order to be fulfilled in life.

But I also know this: anyone who types an "lol" on a message board discussing the loss of a kid who wanted to play sports is just as bad as the person who "allowed" the death to happen in my book. I hope if a tradgedy like this ever happened to you or your family that no one mocks the subject of the settlement or the ideas surrounding the event.

Since: Jul 1, 2011
Posted on: July 2, 2011 11:32 pm

Jury awards $10 million to Ereck Plancher family

Can you put a price tag on a 20 year old man's life?

There are experts that actually get paid to do this, and it is not unreasonable to think that a 20 year football player at a D-1 college could make clost to 10 million dollars during the course of their life. Throw in the negligence, pain and suffering, and everything that UCF potentially did wrong in this case, they should be happy it is only 10 million. NOt long ago cases like this would bring in 30, 50, even 70 million dollar settlements.

Remember, civil litigation is often our only true defense from major cooporations, schools, or other big entities from just walking all over us.

As for sickle cell trait, it is not uncommon for families to not realize they have been carriers for the trait for a few generations back. In addition, I'm sure if you ask this youngs mans mother if she would rather have her son or 10 million dollars, the son would still be there.

Under the circumstances, this seems pretty fair to me. It will also force colleges to start to test for Sickle Cell Diesease and to require waivers for players that have the trait to play sports. 

All of these are good things that will come out of this as people will have the knowledge of the risk and a choice to accept it. Trainers and coaches will have knoweldge of the risk and can take protective action.

;     &nbs

Since: Dec 14, 2007
Posted on: July 2, 2011 9:24 pm

Jury awards $10 million to Ereck Plancher family

I do not understand the $10 million dollar award.  Yes, I feel sorry for the young man and his family, but definitely not $10 million sorry.  I would guess a bulk of that award will be paid by an insurance policy which means all of us will be chipping in a couple of dollars a month through various insurance underwriter fees.  I find it very distressing that one of the parties to the situation stands to profit off of the loss of their son.  Did they not know of any family history to indicate that this young man may have had this physical trait?  If they did, are they not partially at fault for his dying?  I'm sorry, but if I knew of a physical defect that runs in my family, then I would not push my children to push that defect when their life depends on them not pushing it.  And, if that were the case, I don't think I could live, even with $10 million in my pocket, with the knowledge that I should have been a better parent.

Since: Sep 5, 2010
Posted on: July 2, 2011 10:45 am

Jury awards $10 million to Ereck Plancher family

"The jury did not find gross negligence on UCFAA's part..."
...and yet they still get hit for $10 MILLION?

The facts of this case - whether it was preventable or not - will never be proven on either side.  With that being said, how can a $10M judgement be justified -i.e. there was no "wrong doing"? 

At $10M (ntm cost-of-living bumps), this kid would've needed to earn for 50 years at an average of $250K per year to justify this payout?  No offense, but UCF is hardly an academic juggernaut so its highly unlikely this makes any sense.

I'm really not trying to discount this young man's death and a "suitable" outcome is/was completely necessary.  However, I guess I just don't see how $10M is "suitable".

Since: Dec 6, 2010
Posted on: July 2, 2011 8:07 am

Jury awards $10 million to Ereck Plancher family

Bottom line - take responsibility for your own health and own well-being - it's not everyone else's job to do it for you....

Seriously???  The poor kid had a condition that cannot be treated by diet and exercise; needed to be on pheresis which involves a mediport being placed in his body to treat his blood or other treatment modalities.  The other junk you wrote is also absurd about every player having health insurance?  This came down to a kid being punished and pushed physically beyond his bodies ability to keep up, costing him his life.  $10 Million is fair but I am sure the family would give up 10 times that amount to have their son back!

Since: Apr 28, 2008
Posted on: July 2, 2011 12:05 am

Jury awards $10 million to Ereck Plancher family

Unfortunate. Tragic. Yes. Blame? Unless there were extreme - I mean, extreme as in INTENT TO HARM - conditions, I just don't see how blame is appropriate.
Even negligence should have to be proven to be pretty extreme to really assign blame. AFter all, even kids who don't have health insurance can reasonably be expected to know they need water, nutrition, etc...
You know how many guys do those workouts dehydrated from hangovers? 

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