Skip to main content

Exit WCAG Theme

Switch to Non-ADA Website

Accessibility Options

Select Text Sizes

Select Text Color

Website Accessibility Information Close Options
Close Menu
Gillette Law, P.A. Your recovery is my goal
  • Call us Today!
  • ~
  • Free Consultation

Family Files Lawsuit Against Riverdale After Son Dies of Heatstroke


Zachary Polsenberg, a Riverdale Highschool Student, died as a result of heatstroke during a 2017 football practice. Zachary was only 16 years old, eager to please his coach and show his teammates how tough he was. The family has named the school’s coach, the school board, and the county EMS in the lawsuit.

Each of the parties filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, but the motion was denied by a U.S. District Court Judge in Fort Myers, Florida.

According to the lawsuit, the team’s coach violated FHSAA policy that requires that all players be allowed a hydration period every 30 minutes in a cooling zone that is in the shade. The plaintiffs say that Polsenberg was forced to non-stop sprints over the court of 4 hours with no breaks in 90 °F heat. After 3.5 hours, Polsenberg collapsed. The suit further claims that their coach threatened to kick players off the team if they stopped to get water during the conditioning drills.

The Case Against the Coach is Strong

On top of forcing students to do non-stop conditioning drills in violation of FHSAA policy and threatening to kick players off the team if they stopped to hydrate themselves, the suit claims that the coach downplayed the severity of Polsenberg’s symptoms once EMS arrived and failed to convey the urgency of his situation.

EMS was also targeted in this lawsuit. By the time Polsenberg reached the hospital, his temperature was 107 ℉. Additionally, the EMS techs failed to attempt to cool Polsenberg after his collapse as is standard protocol when heatstroke occurs. They waited 21 minutes before rendering any aid at all and, instead of taking him to the nearest hospital, they transported him to Golisano Children’s Hospital, which was nearly 25 miles away.

Defendants Protected by Sovereign Immunity

Since all the named defendants in this wrongful death lawsuit are employees of various government agencies, they are protected from million-dollar verdicts. In a case like this, the parents can only hope for a $200,000 settlement, which hardly seems fair given the gross negligence of the football coach and the EMTs who were supposed to render life-saving care and failed.

However, the family has the option of petitioning the legislature to grant additional funds for the loss of their child. The legislature, which sets the budget for the state, is allowed to make exceptions in certain cases.

Meanwhile, it remains unclear whether or not the coach will be fired for allowing his player to die on the field.

Talk to a Jacksonville Personal Injury Attorney Today

When filing a lawsuit against the state or any of its employees, specific rules apply and those rules differ tremendously from those the rest of us have to play by. If you believe a state employee or agency is responsible for the death of your loved one, call the Jacksonville wrongful death attorneys at Gillette Law today and we will set you up with a free consultation.


Facebook Twitter LinkedIn

By submitting this form I acknowledge that form submissions via this website do not create an attorney-client relationship, and any information I send is not protected by attorney-client privilege.

Skip footer and go back to main navigation