It was 2010 and the first day of formal off-season workouts when 20 year old Bennie Abram collapsed on the field. He had the sickle cell trait, but he wanted to play football, in fact he was pretty good at it, and the university staff and employees had been made aware of his situation. In fact, as of 2009, the NCAA made it a requirement that all athletes be tested for the trait. Although being a carrier does not bar athletes from playing, it allows the NCAA to mandate slow and gradual preseason conditioning training. According to the Clarion-Ledger, Abram's family alleges in a wrongful death suit that "the first day of workouts was 'carelessly and recklessly excessive'" and that Abram himself had not been notified of his test results – a decision, they assert, that prevented him from taking necessary precautions to keep from overexerting himself. The sickle cell trait appears most often in members of the African-American population, with nearly 10 percent being diagnosed and between one in 2,000 to one in 10,000 diagnoses in Caucasians. Named in the suit are the University of Mississippi, the football coach and the NCAA. Mississippi lawyers know that this certainly isn't the first time that a family has sought to hold a school responsible for the untimely death of an athlete. Most of those cases involve heat stroke and overexertion. This particular case will be unique if simply for the fact that it also involves not only alleged negligence at practice on the part of the coaches and medical response team but also involves medical disclosure, and the added failure of the NCAA to fully disclose to a player his own medical condition. Although unique in that sense, statistics show that this isn't the first such case.
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