Before you read this story know that I’m a big fan of football, especially English football.
Today’s story is about right and wrong. But right has been complicated by the King. To fully answer the question you have to ask yourself, if the King in Georgia really can do no wrong? Not the country Georgia in the old Soviet Bloc, but the one in the southeastern United States.
This story reminds me of those would-be clients who have a claim against whatever State in which they live, but have failed to serve a proper notice. First you need to know the import of the phrase “sovereign immunity”. Literally it means “the King can do no wrong.” Meaning the King of England couldn’t be sued unless he allowed such a suit. He could do no wrong and therefore you couldn’t sue the Kingdom since no matter what they did it wasn’t considered to be wrong. As America developed and statehoods were granted the common law of England was readily available to American jurists and was adopted as a framework for the American system of justice. Sovereign immunity was one of those legal doctrines adopted. It meant the state couldn’t be sued without its permission. Many States passed laws allowing limited claims against it for the negligent acts of state employees. To bring suit first you are required to serve a notice within a short period of time. The theory is that the State needs advanced notice to be able to investigate the claim. Of course that is nonsense in modern day; because when an accident occurs almost immediately every state loss prevention department investigates the incident and creates a report. Notice provisions are just another way of creating a trap door for the uninformed potential claimant. The story today demonstrates just such a situation.
This story is about athletic departments having insurance programs that make available to football players a sort of disability insurance. Knowing that football players who may go high in the draft may get injured in what are meaningless games, the athletic department makes available for a $5,000.00 premium disability insurance in the amount of $500,000.00. To be insured the football player needs to advise the AD whose staff then fills out the proper forms and submits them with the premium to the proper insurance company.
In this story the program is the University of Georgia and the player is Decory Bryant who was injured during a kickoff return in a tie game and who suffered a broken neck in the play.
“Bryant said he told an assistant athletic director charged with arranging insurance for players that he was ready to stomach the $5,000 premium for insurance coverage days before he took the field for an October 2003 game against the University of Alabama-Birmingham. But the lawsuit claimed the official never submitted the forms. Bryant was returning a kickoff in a tie game against the Blazers when he was tackled by two defenders at the same time. A Georgia blocker watched helplessly as Bryant's body was flung like a rag doll to the tattered grass. His friends in the crowd said they could hear the hit from the top of Sanford Stadium.
Hours later, doctors told Bryant that his neck was broken. Walking again would be a long shot, he was told, and playing football was out of the question.”
Bryant’s lawsuit against the State of Georgia was dismissed at least in part because of his failure to give notice prior to filing suit against the Kingdom of Georgia. So players take heed making sure your paperwork has been properly filed and that a policy has been issued before you take to the gridiron to honor your school, your team and whichever state where you play.
Meanwhile Preston Plevretes’ lawsuit against La Salle University gets settled for $7.5 million.
“PHILADELPHIA — A private university will pay $7.5 million to provide care to a football player who suffered a severe brain injury in a 2005 game, settling a case that questioned how the school handled a concussion the player allegedly suffered a month earlier.
The family of Preston Plevretes, 23, of Marlboro, N.J., settled their lawsuit against La SalleUniversity on Monday, the day it was set for trial in Philadelphia.
The settlement came as the NFL, the NCAA and other governing bodies review rules about when athletes should return to play following concussions, amid research that suggests returning too soon can lead to brain damage.
NFL quarterbacks Ben Roethlisberger of Pittsburgh and Kurt Warner of Arizona, who faced off in the last Super Bowl, both sat out Sunday after suffering head injuries, as did Philadelphia running back Brian Westbrook and others.”