Settlement Reached in NFL Players’ Death
Posted by PKSD Law Firm on February 19, 2009 in Brain Injuries
The widow of Minnesota Vikings offensive tackle Korey Stringer reached a settlement with the NFL over her husband’s heatstroke death during the 2001 Vikings training camp in Mankato, MN.
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Kelci Stringer sued the league and football equipment maker Riddell Inc. after her husbands death. The lawsuit claimed the NFL hadn’t done enough to ensure that equipment used by players protected them from injuries or deaths caused by heat-related illnesses. The lawsuit against Riddell remains pending.
When Stringer, 27, collapsed, the heat index – a combination of temperature and humidity – was 110. Experts advise that such a high index is one of the first red flags that NFL teams must monitor.
Stringers death, the first attributed to heatstroke in the NFL’s 82-year history, made national headlines. It also focused attention on a trend that hasn’t commanded as much attention – an upsurge in heat fatalities at all levels of football.
Last season, the deaths of a college player and a high school player also were attributed to heatstroke. From 1995 through last season, there were 19 such deaths in high school and college football, according to the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research at the University of North Carolina.
Heat stroke is a life-threatening, but preventable, condition which occurs when the body is unable to cool itself. When body temperatures rise to 103 or 104, the brains hypothalamus loses its ability to regulate the heat. The heart beats faster to increase blood flow to the skin to aid in evaporation, leaving less blood in the heart and other muscles. Brain death begins around 106 degrees, but death from heat stroke can be gradual, taking three or four days while organs begin to fail.
There were a total of 20 football-related deaths in 2006; two pick-up game players, three college players and 13 middle and high school players. Just one of the 20 deaths was not heat-related, involving a 17-year-old high school player who suffered a spinal cord injury when tackled in practice. There have been 31 total since 1995.