Judge dismisses lawsuit in Ole Miss player’s death

By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal

OXFORD – A former University of Mississippi football player’s family’s wrongful death lawsuit has been dismissed, circuit court records show.
Eugene Egdorf of Houston, Texas, representing the family of Bennie “Buster” Abram III of Southaven, said Monday the legal action was more about getting answers than money, although he said the 20-year-old’s family received $50,000 from the UM Athletic Foundation’s insurance company and another $275,000 from an NCAA insurance policy.
“Ole Miss recognized it needed to make some changes, the NCAA too, for policies about players,” Egdorf said.
He said the lawsuit was settled some months ago, but the case had to go through probate in chancery court, which was finalized last week.
Judge Andrew Howorth also dismissed the action “with prejudice,” which means the issues may never be raised again.
In February 2010, Abram died at an Oxford hospital hours after he collapsed during formal off-season workouts for the Ole Miss football team.
He was a walk-on player and a 2007 graduate of DeSoto Central High School.
Three months later, an autopsy reportedly stated that a sickle cell trait contributed to his death.
His family sued, claiming they never were informed about his positive test for sickle cell trait, a condition that occurs in about 1 in 12 of the country’s black population.
When irregularly shaped red blood cells “sickle,” they can restrict flow in blood vessels.
Lawsuit defendants included the university, then-coach Houston Nutt, other coaches, Chancellor Dan Jones, the State College Board, UM Athletic Association Foundation, the NCAA, two hospitals and some medical staff.
Although the 32-page complaint did not state damages sought, a notice letter to prospective defendants said the suit would seek at least $10 million.
It claimed the defendants were “reckless” and contributed to Abram’s death. The defendants denied the allegations.
Egdorf said to look for sickle-cell education on the Ole Miss campus and changes in the NCAA handbook on dealing with athletes with the condition.
patsy.brumfield@journalinc.com