OAKLAND, Calif. (CN) - A UC-Berkeley football player with sickle-cell trait died during a workout, though a Golden Bears' trainer had seen another player with the condition die in similar circumstances at another school, the late player's family claims in court.
Ted Agu, a defensive lineman for UC-Berkeley's California Golden Bears, died on Feb. 7 during a conditioning drill that was "extremely intense and egregiously inappropriate, given his medical condition," his family says in the Aug. 5 complaint in Alameda County Court.
The only defendants are The Regents of the University of California and Does 1-50, though an associate athletic trainer, Robert Jackson, who is not a defendant, is named throughout the complaint.
The Agus claim that Jackson, who observed the fatal team workout, should have understood the risks.
Jackson worked as an athletic trainer for University of Central Florida's football team when one of its players, Erick Plancher, who also had sickle cell trait, died after a "difficult conditioning session," the complaint states.
The Plancher family was awarded $10 million against the UCF Athletics Association, according to the Agus' lawsuit.
The Agus claim that Ted "lost his life because of the reckless and negligent behavior of UCB football trainers and coaches in orchestrating, conducting and subjecting Agu to a lethal conditioning drill for a player with known sickle-cell trait."
The family claims that Ted suffered "exhaustion, dizziness, shortness of breath, loss of balance and other signs of extreme fatigue that were clearly symptomatic of the sickling process, and yet all such signs were ignored by the UCB trainers and coaches."
After "a significant period of time," Ted "was put on a cart and taken back toward the stadium where he collapsed for the last time. Emergency personnel came to the scene and transported Ted Agu to Alta Bates Medical Center in Berkeley, where he was pronounced dead," the complaint states.
Sickle-cell trait indicates that a person has inherited the sickle-cell gene anemia gene. Sickle-cell trait does not create symptoms in itself, according to the Centers for Disease Control, but conditions such as high altitudes, dehydration and low oxygen levels, such as can occur during hard exercise, could pose health complications.
The Agu family seeks medical expenses and damages for wrongful death and negligence.
Their lead counsel is Robert Glassman, with Panish Shea & Boyle, of Los Angeles.