Trial opens in UCF football death suit

June 13, 2011 at 4:51 PM

ORLANDO, Fla., June 13 (UPI) -- The wrongful death suit brought by player Ereck Plancher's parents against the University of Central Florida opened in Orlando Monday with jury selection.

Plancher, 19, collapsed and died after a March 18, 2008, workout under by UCF football coach George O'Leary and his staff.

Monday morning, plaintiffs' attorney Steve Yerrid withdrew the claim against the UCF board of trustees while continuing it against the UCF Athletics Association, which Judge Robert Evans has ruled is a private party not shielded by Florida laws capping payouts at $200,000.

The board of trustees' attorneys did not object and said they would bill Enock and Gisele Plancher for their trial costs.

An autopsy found Plancher had sickle cell, which warps blood cells and attacks organs when the body is under extreme stress. The medical examiner said the trait was triggered and caused "vascular distress," contributing to his death.

The Planchers sued in March 2009, charging UCF staff failed to properly treat Ereck, but the university says it did everything possible to save him.

Potential witnesses include O'Leary, UCF Athletic Director Keith Tribble, trainers, teammates and medical experts.

Evans dismissed 26 potential jurors, leaving a pool of 32 for attorneys to question. Proceedings resume Tuesday morning.

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