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Florida Supreme Court Reviewing UCF Wrongful Death Case

By Orlando Personal Injury Attorney on August 22, 2014

Orlando wrongful death attorneys are closely following developments in a legal dispute between the family of a University of Central Florida football player and the university. The Florida Supreme Court recently announced that they plan to hear an appeal of the reduction of the monetary award given to the player’s family. The case stems from a 2008 incident, when the 19-year-old player collapsed and died after performing conditioning drills with UCF teammates. Court justices have announced that they have issued an order accepting jurisdiction in the case, but said that they do not plan to hear oral arguments. Instead, the justices plan to review the case records and legal briefs from the attorneys involved in the August 2013 case.

When the three-member appeals court heard the case last August, they reduced a jury’s civil trial damage judgment awarded to the player’s parents in 2011 from $10 million to $200,000. The appeals court ruled that UCF’s power of control over its athletic department was sufficient for sovereign immunity, which is commonly provided to state agencies in civil judgments. Under Florida legal statutes, $200,000 is the most that a state agency can be required to pay. Any damages greater than that figure must be approved by the Florida legislature.

If the Supreme Court rules in favor of the player’s family and reinstates the $10 million jury award, it could impact how Florida universities operate their athletic departments going forward. UCF and several other Florida universities operate their athletic departments as private, direct-support organizations, which allow them state agency protections, such as the aforementioned statutory cap for legal judgments. If the Court rules against UCF’s athletic department in this case, it could make the athletic departments of other state universities vulnerable to uncapped judgments in the future.

As you can see, wrongful death cases can be quite complicated and take a very long time to resolve through the courts. This is one of the many reasons why it is important for victims’ families to have an experienced Orlando personal injury lawyer such as Mr. Cunningham by their side to protect their rights and inform their decisions during this incredibly stressful time. If you believe that you and your family have grounds to pursue legal action in a wrongful death case and you would like to schedule a free consultation with Mr. Cunningham, call him today at 877-FL-INJURY (877-354-6587).

James O. Cunningham

Since 1977, personal injury lawyer James Cunningham has provided effective legal advocacy to people who are injured through the negligent actions of another person or entity throughout the Central Florida area. He fights to obtain recoveries for his clients’ physical and emotional pain and suffering and pursues his clients’ personal injury cases with a commitment to excellence and impeccable preparation.

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