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Judge Dismisses Wrongful Death of High School Football Player


A Florida judge has dismissed a wrongful death lawsuit against Riverdale High School related to the death of a high school football player who apparently succumbed to heatstroke. The lawsuit was filed by the boy’s mother, Laurie Giordano, who claimed that the school district was responsible for not seeing to the safety of her son. While it’s difficult to argue with that sentiment, the judge ruled that there was no evidence to support the claim that school or its employees acted with malicious intent in the death of the boy.

The lawsuit claimed that the school’s coach, subjected the 320 lb offensive lineman to rigorous conditioning drills in 90-degree heat. The boy collapsed on the field and was taken to the hospital where he died two weeks later.

However, the case was dismissed without prejudice meaning that the plaintiffs will have an opportunity to prove their case should they continue to move forward.

The Case Against Riverdale High School 

While the ruling is no doubt disappointing to the boy’s mother and perhaps many parents who are aware of the situation, the plaintiffs will still have an opportunity to refile. The judge’s ruling specified that the plaintiffs had failed to allege a substantive due process violation even though the plaintiffs alleged that the team’s coach denied the deceased water, failed to call 911 in a timely manner, and downplayed the severity of the boy’s injury.

The lawsuit, which was filed in federal court, made several claims that could have also been filed in state court. The federal court declined to make any rulings on causes of actions that could be filed in state court. The plaintiffs will have 14 days to amend their original complaint and refile in federal court if they choose.

Was the Workout Dangerous?

Conditioning workouts are meant to stretch the limits of human endurance, but at what point do they become dangerous? Coaches are not typically sports science experts nor are they expected to understand the signs of medical emergencies. Nonetheless, when a player is collapsed on the field, someone should do the right thing and call an ambulance if for no other reason than to make sure that the boy is okay.

The coach is also accused of refusing to allow his players to drink water which is potentially dangerous in 90-degree heat where they are being forced to exert themselves. The plaintiffs say that the coach made the players run “never-ending” sprints. They also claim that the coach denied players access to water despite signs of heat exhaustion and several players pleading for help. He is also accused of threatening to kick players off the team if they asked for water. Despite the fact that his player was convulsing on the ground, when the coach finally did call 911, he told the dispatcher that his player was “fine”.

Talk to a Jacksonville Personal Injury Attorney

If you’ve been injured by a negligent party, the Jacksonville personal injury attorneys at Gillette Law can help you recover damages related to your injury and hold the liable party accountable for their carelessness. Talk to us today to set up a free consultation.



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