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The Matassini Law Firm, P.A. Your trusted legal advisors since 1976

Family Wins Big After Wrestler Dies Of Heat Stroke


A major university will be forking over $14 million to the family of a student who died during practice. According to the family, the coaches failed to recognize the signs of heatstroke and ensure the student got the necessary medical attention. The university will also be required to pay a nationally recognized expert in heatstroke prevention to provide recommendations on future support systems for students. According to the lawsuit, the wrestler was forced to engage in uphill “punishment sprints” and he eventually collapsed. The lawsuit further states that the student became disoriented and those coaches told him to “get out” without calling for help.

As part of the settlement, the university did not admit wrongdoing claiming they could have defended the lawsuit but chose not to. Unfortunately, the university had little chance of defending this lawsuit, which is why it was settled so quickly for such a high figure. But if the university needs to believe that it could have defended this lawsuit, then it’s allowed to believe that. Had the plaintiffs demanded the university admit wrongdoing, it would have likely cost the plaintiffs a lot of money.

Why is the settlement figure so high?

 Universities don’t pay this much money unless they’re being punished. So, the question becomes: Why was the settlement figure so high? The answer likely has something to do with the severity of the allegations made against the coaches and staff that were with the student that day. The university preferred to pay $14 million rather than have their coaches and staff grilled during depositions and in open court. That would have probably destroyed a lot of lives. One could argue that these lives should have been destroyed for the destruction they caused to this family. However, in the context of coaching, it can be complicated, and coaches today are changing tactics when it comes to getting the most out of their students. While old-school coaching still exists, it’s a bit of a dinosaur for reasons you can see above.

In this case, the coaches assumed the player was just psychologically weak instead of being in real medical distress. Such ignorance costs lives. The university should pay for this death. The coaches should also be removed from the program. Policies should be put in place to deal with heatstroke, and coaches should be trained to recognize the signs of various exhaustion ailments. Instead of yelling at a collapsed player, the coaches should get first responders there as quickly as possible. Had any of those things happened, it is likely this student would still be alive.

The strength of the argument lies in the apparent cruelty of the boy’s treatment as he was dying. The university was likely terrified of those allegations going before a jury. Ultimately, $14 million may be a good deal for the defendants considering they get to bury the matter and move forward.

Talk to a Tampa, FL Personal Injury Lawyer Today 

The Matassini Law Firm represents the interests of families who have lost a loved one to negligence or cruelty. Call our Tampa personal injury lawyers today to schedule a free consultation and we can begin preparing your case immediately.


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