Family of Deceased Grambling Basketball Player Sues for Damages

As reported by the Ruston Daily Leader in January of this year, the family of Henry White has filed a lawsuit against Grambling State University, its supervisory panel, and the Louisiana Board of Trustees of State Colleges.

In August 2009, 21 year old Henry White was a criminal justice major and basketball player for GSU. He collapsed during what the school termed a “conditioning” drill that involved White and other students running without water in 100 degree heat. White was taken to the hospital after players tried to revive him by pouring water on him. No one called for assistance for 20 minutes. White died a little less than two weeks later.

According to the article, Natalie Wood, White’s mother filed the suit and alleges that

White and other players were forced by Portland [an assistant basketball coach] to run four miles for failing to timely register for school.

The lawsuit does not specify the damage amount. However, White’s mother has been left to pay $300,000 in medical expenses alone.

If a love one has died and the death may have resulted from the negligence of another person or entity, the individual’s survivors may be entitled to collect damages in a wrongful death lawsuit like this one. The damages that can be recovered vary according to the relationship between the deceased and the survivor(s) and can include cost of medical expenses, compensation for pain and suffering, payment for lost wages or benefits the person who has died would have received.

Not just anyone may file a wrongful death claim in the state of Louisiana. Only a surviving spouse, child, parent or guardian, siblings or grandparents may sue for wrongful death. Family members beyond siblings and grandparents may not sue and do not have the right to recover. Siblings may only recover if there is no surviving spouse, child, or grandparents, and they file a suit on behalf of the estate of deceased person and recover through that estate.

The loss of a child is an especially traumatic and tragic event for a parent. Loss of consortium describes another type of claim that typically applies to spouses who have lost their spouse and allows recovery for lost companionship. Loss of consortium can also sometimes extend to parents who have lost a child or children who have lost parents. This type of claim is called a “filial consortium” claim and pays damages for the lost love, companionship, or care of the child or parent. Loss of consortium claims can be difficult to prove because they deal with emotional damages that a court may regard as speculative. In addition, filial consortium claims are not allowed in all states.

This area of the law is obviously very complex. It is absolutely necessary that anyone bringing a wrongful claim know these types of cases inside and out to ensure a maximum recovery. Part of this requires hiring a knowledgeable attorney who can handle the variety of complex legal issues that arise from such tragedies.