Returning to the wrongful death case of Ereck Plancher once more, it seems the case has finally been settled. Following closing assignments by the Athletic Association and Plancher’s family, the jury returned a verdict that UCFAA was negligent in Plancher’s death. His family was awarded $10 million in recognition of the family’s loss and in an attempt to repay them for three long years of grief in trying to resolve the situation to their satisfaction.
The jury did not find the association guilty of the greater charge of gross negligence, which would have allowed the Planchers to collect even more in damages. However, the family’s $1.5 million in court costs spent to date will have to be paid by the association as well. It is a decisive win following a case that consisted of contentious testimony, conflicting evidence and reports — even some situations of patently obvious fatuity.
In particular, the winning actions seemed to come from Plancher’s teammates at the time of his death. They pointed accusations in the direction of Coach O’leary, saying he had singled out Plancher for a lack of effort during a practice. They argued that the coaches deprived the team of water or other drinks following the practice, contributing to the problem.
There was also strong evidence that the association had information that Plancher suffered from sickle-cell condition, which can be aggravated to life-threatening levels under serious duress such as the physical exertion of a football practice. Denying rehydration would only compound the issue, and indeed the autopsy showed that Plancher’s death was a result of this condition. Yet there was the rather damning testimony from one of the coaches that the association staff “didn’t recall” informing Plancher that he had the condition.
Faced with a number of eyewitnesses contradicting O’leary’s testimony about the events of that day, as well as the evidence that the association did not perform due diligence in informing Plancher of his condition, the verdict reached was clearly all but inevitable.