By: William M. Berman, Attorney at Law
LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY – A high school football coach was recently charged with negligent homicide in the death of a student player who collapsed during football practice. A grand jury indicted coach David Jason Stinson following the death of Max Gilpin. The 15-year-old Pleasure Ridge Park High School sophomore had trouble breathing, collapsed and lost consciousness after being pushed too hard during a team practice. When rushed to the hospital, he was found to have a temperature of 107 degrees. Despite extensive medical efforts, he died three days later. The coach is now being criminally held to answer for his death and the situation raises interesting questions about the responsibilities coaches have for their athletes and just how far coaches can push young students in athletic related practice and competition.
In addition to the criminal charges that have been filed, it is likely that a civil wrongful death lawsuit will follow. The attorneys hired by the parents of Max Gilpin have described the coaches’ conduct during the football practice as inexcusable. According to the family’s attorneys, in addition to causing the conditions that led to the collapse of Max, there was also a lack of urgency including a prolonged delay in seeking medical treatment after he collapsed, which caused further harm. If proven true, such facts are legally significant in a case alleging negligence and “reckless disregard” against the coach and any others responsible.
While this particular incident happened at the high school level in Kentucky, similar incidents have occurred in various other locations, including in California. Other similar events have involved students at the high school level, college level and even the professional level as evidenced by the death of Minnesota Vikings professional football player Korey Stringer. Under such circumstances where a coach pushes a player to compete to exhaustion under circumstances that prove deadly, an experienced personal injury attorney will be able to evaluate the facts of a given case and determine if a wrongful death case may be warranted against the coaching staff, school officials, or even the school district. The health and safety of our children need to be placed at the forefront of all; the costs of winning at any level of athletic competition is simply not worth the risk of human life.
William Berman is an attorney at the firm Berman & Riedel, LLP, and has experience working on wrongful death cases and catastrophic personal injury matters. He can be reached by contacting the firm at (858)350-8855.