As an experienced wrongful death attorney in Northern Mississippi, it pains me to see youth in our state have their lives cut short. I’m sure you’ve heard of the death of University of Mississippi football player Bennie Abram III during a February 2010 football practice.
Abram grew up in Southaven, Mississippi, where our office is located. His parents, Bennie and Erma Abram, sued Ole Miss in 2011 over the wrongful death of their son.
Recently, a settlement was finally reached, in which the family received $50,000 from Ole Miss and another $275,000 from an NCAA insurance policy, according to a USA Today report.
Abram’s parents alleged that Ole Miss didn’t follow workout guidelines for players with sickle-cell trait. Abram, only twenty years old, wasn’t aware he had the trait, which can deform red blood cells after extended periods of strenuous exercise.
Ole Miss was aware that Abram had sickle cell trait but repeatedly said that all of the university’s employees took appropriate action.
The NCAA made sickle cell testing mandatory for all Division I athletes in 2010. However, carrying the trait doesn’t prevent an athlete from playing.
Abrams collapsed on the first day of workouts on Feb. 19, 2010. He later died in Baptist Memorial Hospital in Oxford, Mississippi. He was a 2007 graduate of DeSoto Central High School.
The lawsuit alleged that the first day of workouts was “carelessly and recklessly excessive,” especially for an athlete known to have Abram’s condition. His parents also believed that he didn’t receive proper medical attention when he began to struggle, but instead was pushed to continue the workout.
I sympathize strongly with the Abram family. The death was a tragedy and likely could have been prevented had Ole Miss or the NCAA taken the actions necessary.
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