Florida Football Player’s Death Leads to Lawsuit for University
January 9, 2017
Physical trainers and coaches are supposed to push you to your limits, but they also have a responsibility to know where those limits are. Going too far over the limit can severely injure you, and in some cases may even have fatal consequences.
Such is the situation in the sad case of wrongful death lawsuit.
On February 10, 2015, Colt Cardwell was at conditioning practice with the Warner University football team. Cardwell had transferred to the school earlier in the year to play as an offensive lineman.
During conditioning, he registered heightened blood pressure and experienced trouble breathing, but was allowed by coaches to continue training. The next day, he experienced similar symptoms, as well as chest pain, before he collapsed to the ground and lost consciousness.
Cardwell was taken to a nearby hospital by ambulance, but was pronounced dead by the afternoon. Reports say he died of cardiac arrest. Cardwell was just 25 years old.
It is not unheard of for deaths to take place on a high school or college football field. A lot of responsibility rests on the coaches and trainers to make sure all of the players are treated for their injuries and are healthy enough to endure training and games. When coaches do not consider a player’s health issues, they may be found responsible for further injuries or – as in the case of Colt Cardwell – even deaths.
How was Warner University Negligent?
In a wrongful death lawsuit like Cardwell’s, the family has to prove that the defendants were negligent when it came to Cardwell’s training, symptoms, and overall health concerns.
Cardwell was 6’9” and 425 pounds at the time of his death. Before joining the team, a doctor had recommended that the offensive lineman lose weight and consistently check his blood pressure.
The family is claiming that Warner University failed to do many things to keep their football players safe, and that these failures and acts of negligence ultimately caused Cardwell’s early death. Some of their claims include:
- Failure to get clearance from a medical doctor before allowing Cardwell to participate in weightlifting and conditioning
- Failure to screen all athletes properly before letting them participate in training or athletics
- Failure to have an automatic defibrillator on site when Cardwell complained of chest pain and fainted
- Failure to recognize signs of cardiac distress
- Failure to contact emergency assistance in the time frame that would have benefitted Cardwell
If the family can collect the evidence necessary to prove these points to a judge and show that the university’s negligence directly caused Cardwell’s death, they will be able to win their lawsuit and receive damages relating to funeral costs, medical expenses, and the emotional pain of losing their son.
How to Begin Building Your Wrongful Death Lawsuit
Once you have decided that your loved one’s death was a wrongful death, you will have to make your claim against the parties responsible. This means identifying the cause of death, as well as where the malpractice or negligence occurred.
For example, if your loved one’s death was related to previously known health conditions, like Cardwell’s, you will have to prove that the defendants (in that case, Warner University’s football coaches) were aware of said health conditions but neglected to address them properly.
Generally speaking, most defendants will not want to admit their culpability and will resist paying the damages you are asking for. In order to win your claim, you should be able to back your accusations up with solid evidence that the defendant’s negligence caused your loved one’s death.
Useful evidence may include the following:
- Testimony from an expert witness (i.e. medical professional, OSHA employee)
- Testimony from witnesses present at the time of your loved one’s death
- Records of your correspondence with the defendants regarding your loved one
- Medical records
A lawyer will be able to guide you further into gathering the appropriate evidence for your case.
If your loved one experienced a health issue like Cardwell’s, but ultimately died due to the negligence of a doctor or medical professional, you may find yourself suing for wrongful death due to medical malpractice. They work a bit differently. You can read more about malpractice lawsuits here, and what it takes to prove that a doctor acted in an inappropriate or negligent manner.
Even if you are not fully prepared with the records and evidence you need to file your claim, there are time constraints against you for filing a wrongful death lawsuit.
Every wrongful death lawsuit is different. Contact a Florida wrongful death lawyer today for more information on how you can get the compensation you deserve for your loved one’s death.
About the Author:
A partner at Lawlor, White & Murphey and a distinguished personal injury lawyer, Ben Murphey tries complex disputes that include civil appeals, maritime and admiralty claims, wrongful death, and labor disputes. Mr. Murphey has been recognized for his excellence in the area of personal injury litigation by being rewarded with a 10/10 AVVO Rating and named a Super Lawyers “Rising Star” for 2010-2013 and Super Lawyers for 2014-2016.. Mr. Murphey regularly tries cases in state and federal courts around the country, being admitted to practice before all Florida courts and the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.