Settlement Reached in Wrongful Death Lawsuit of Maryland Football Player


Source: Frostburg State University

A settlement has been reached in the wrongful death lawsuit over the 2011 death of a Maryland college football player.

The settlement provides that the NCAA and football coaches will pay $1.2 million to a nonprofit foundation created in the player’s honor, according to a release.

Derek Sheely, 22, died of a head injury in August 2011 after he collapsed during football practice at Frostburg State University.

Sheely died after he took part in “gladiatorial” high-speed drills that caused players to suffer repeated blows to the head, according to the wrongful death lawsuit filed by his family.

The complaint said Sheely returned to the field despite bleeding from his forehead during practice sessions, and he was never checked for a concussion or to see if his helmet was properly fitted.

The Germantown, Maryland, resident’s family filed the high-profile lawsuit in Montgomery County court.

“This is a landmark settlement not just because it is the first brain-injury case that the NCAA has agreed to pay a significant amount of money to resolve, but also because the stakeholders of football are now on notice that they have an obligation to protect the health and safety of the athletes, and if they fail to do so, there will be vast repercussions,” the Sheely family’s attorney, Kenneth McClain, said in a release. “While we were eager to try this case to a jury, we were able to craft a settlement that will have a much greater impact than a verdict could have achieved in this case.”

In addition to the monetary award, both parties agreed to terms that are aimed at increasing awareness and research about concussions, including the NCAA’s production of a new video addressing the risks of head injuries and sponsorship and funding of a symposium in honor of Sheely.

Aside from establishing memorial scholarships and research awards, the settlement also includes Frostburg State University agreement to retire Sheely’s number 40 jersey and display it on campus.

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