By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Circuit Judge Andy Howorth issued a stay in a lawsuit over the death of University of Mississippi football player Bennie “Buster” Abram, who died Feb. 19, 2010, after collapsing during a team workout.
The stay puts on hold the discovery process in the case until Howorth rules on points of law, including whether some former and current university employees should be included as defendants.
Abram’s parents claim that the university, 22 of its employees, the University of Mississippi Athletics Association, Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning and the National Collegiate Athletic Association, Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi, the University of Mississippi Medical Center and other defendants are liable for their son’s death.
While Thursday’s hearing was not intended to argue the case itself, attorneys on both sides found opportunity to include parts of their respective positions. One point of contention was the role that Buster Abram’s sickle-cell trait may have played in his death.
Plaintiff attorney Gene Egdorf successfully represented the family of a Rice University athlete in a sickle-related case in 2009, the settlement of which instituted the NCAA’s mandatory sickle-cell testing.
“The fact is that in the last several years, more than 20 Division I college football players have died from complications from sickle-cell trait. That’s not in medical dispute,” he said. “It’s not disputed that that’s what happened to Buster Abram. The coroner cited that in her report in May 2010.”