BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) — The family of a University of California, Berkeley, football player who died after a team drill in 2014 has settled a wrongful death lawsuit with the school system for $4.75 million, officials said Thursday.
The parents of 21-year-old Ted Agu sued, saying their son shouldn’t have been in the strenuous workout because he carried sickle cell trait, a blood abnormality that experts believe can lead to death under extreme exertion.
Agu died shortly after an off-season conditioning workout outside Memorial Stadium.
The university has acknowledged liability for the death of the defensive lineman and pre-med student, the San Francisco Chronicle (http://bit.ly/1Mw3vd9 ) reported.
UC attorneys said negligence by Cal officials was “a substantial factor” in leading to Agu’s death and that no other person or entity, including Agu himself, was responsible, court papers show.
“The university is glad to have reached a resolution with the Agu family, as it has been a difficult process for everyone involved,” Dan Mogulof, a UC Berkeley spokesman, said in a statement cited by the newspaper.
The settlement also guarantees health and safety reforms for Cal athletics. It brings months of negotiations and litigation to a close.
Teammates said they were directed to run up and down a steep asphalt hill 10 times while holding a rope together and that they had never before done the drill. They testified that Agu was showing visible difficulty in completing the drill, falling to his knees several times before collapsing into a fetal position halfway up the hill on the last lap.
With the settlement, coaches will not be able to use “high-risk physical activity” as punishment, and superiors will review workout and conditioning plans. Coaches and team doctors will also increase their education of sickle cell trait and the medical complications that can accompany it.
“We were never going to accept just money,” said Steve Yerrid, one of the attorneys who represented the Agu family. “The most unnatural act in the world is for a parent to bury their child.”
Under the deal Cal must only hold workouts when the team staffers have a direct line of sight to athletes.
Information from: San Francisco Chronicle, http://www.sfgate.com