Delivered to the Lyceum this morning was a five-page letter, detailing a potential lawsuit filed by Lanier Law Firm, a Houston based firm representing the family of the late Bennie Abram, the Ole Miss Rebel walk-on defensive back who collapsed and died during last spring's workouts.
They are asking for ten million dollars in damages.
This case may have some legs, if the allegations brought about by the Lanier Firm are true. Here's the important beef of the letter, as shamelessly lifted from Veazey:
Mr. Egdorf and The Lanier Law Firm negotiated a landmark 2009 settlement with the National Collegiate Athletic Association following the death of Rice University football player Dale R. Lloyd II, who also had sickle cell trait. As part of the settlement, the NCAA for the first time recommended that all student-athletes undergo testing for the condition.
Ole Miss officials have said the university began testing athletes for sickle cell trait starting in 1989, and that the school knew about Mr. Abram’s condition. However, Mr. Egdorf says the Abram family wasn’t made aware of the results or the potential ramifications of the diagnosis.
I doubt that Ole Miss staff did not inform the family of a walk-on defensive back (I feel bad for going here, but a spade's a spade) of the results of a medical test - the results of which they likely already knew, as I highly doubt they were entirely unaware of Bennie's sickle cell anemia - for fear of "potential ramifications of the diagnosis," just as I also think such would be hard to prove. If that were the case though, this suit would be legitimate and fair.
But, had the Abram family been aware of the diagnosis long before any tests were taken by the Ole Miss staff, then the liabilies of playing a violent, demanding sport such as football were with Bennie what they are with everyone else: self evident.
One has got to think that this case is a fairly long shot, especially if $10M is really to be rewarded. But, regardless of any ruling's likelihood, this case is a sad and tragic reminder of Abram's sudden death and the desperate need of closure experienced by a grieving family. I think we all can agree that an out-of-court settlement will be reached and most of this will be long forgotten in a few short months.
P.S. - Veazey points out the interesting timing of this notice. I'm not one for black helicopters and all of that, but I will say that he kinda has a point.