Former football player's family settles with UA

By Jason A. Vrtis
Arizona Daily Wildcat
October 29, 1996

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Damon Terrell


The university has undertaken a review of its policies and procedures following the settlement of a wrongful death claim filed by the family of former UA football player Damon Terrell, a UA attorney said yesterday.

Terrell's parents, Ricky and Linda Terrell, and his brother, Ricky Jr., settled a claim with the state, University Medical Center and University Physicians Inc. for $1 million, an official from the state attorney general's office said.

Terrell died Sept. 7, 1995, a month after collapsing during practice.

"We have already undertaken a review of applicable policies and procedures," said Michael Proctor, a University of Arizona attorney. "I would like to get into the findings of the review, but the confidentiality clause of the claim prevents me."

Athletic Department and UMC officials referred all questions to the university's attorneys.

The state, on behalf of the university and the Arizona Board of Regents, will pay $580,000, while UMC and the physicians' group will each pay $210,000 as a result of the settlement, said Tom Prose, chief counsel for the Insurance Defense Section of the st ate attorney general's office. He said the state issued the check Friday.

Prose said that after analyzing the complaint and finishing negotiations with the plaintiffs, the state reached an agreement that is fair for both the plaintiffs and the taxpayers.

Damon Terrell, a senior tight end, died after collapsing during a morning workout Aug. 10, 1995. An autopsy determined an air bubble that formed during the removal of a dialysis catheter at UMC blocked the flow of blood to his heart. He was 21.

Terrell's parents filed the claim in May, alleging that at UMC employees failed to monitor Terrell adequately or to maintain appropriate circulation, which resulted in the need for dialysis.

The family's claim also sought damages for negligent infliction of emotional distress because they were present when the catheter was removed, and they witnessed their son grabbing his chest and "pleading that he 'couldn't breathe'" before he died.

The claim also alleged the defendants were negligent because NCAA rules were violated, and appropriate treatment was not under-taken during the events that transpired after Terrell's collapse. The plaintiffs had asked for $3 million.

The family alleged that the UA and the football team were negligent and violated NCAA guidelines by failing to allow Terrell to become accustomed to the climate for seven to 10 days before engaging in strenuous exercise. They also alleged that NCAA guidel ines were violated when immediate cooling measures were not initiated to stop the impending heatstroke Terrell was suffering, according to McKale Center records.

Proctor said the parties involved are satisfied with the resolution of the case and are anxious to put it behind them.