FSU, Family Agree On $2 Million Settlement

June 28, 2004

Associated Press Writer

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - A judge approved a $2 million settlement Monday between Florida State and the family of Devaughn Darling, a football player who died during an offseason workout in 2001.

The state will issue a check for the statutory limit of $200,000 to the Darling family, who must petition the Legislature for the remaining $1.8 million. The family must file a claims bill by Aug. 1 to have it considered during the 2005 legislative session.

The claim will be supported by the university under terms of the agreement approved by Circuit Judge L. Ralph Smith. The parties agreed to mediation last November.

The school also will place a memorial to Darling in its athletic department, provide duplicates of photographs and video of his playing time to the family, make replicas of the rings awarded to Darling for the January 2001 Orange Bowl and the 2000 Atlantic Coast Conference title, and maintain a scholarship endowment in the player's memory.

Darling collapsed and died Feb. 26, 2001, of an apparent "cardiac arrhythmia" at the age of 18. He was projected as a starting outside linebacker going into the 2001 spring practices.

Darling's family members, including parents Dennis Darling and Wendy Smith, sued the school in October 2002, claiming their son died despite complaining of dizziness and chest pains during a workout.

Although no specific amount of damages was included in the suit, it asked for loss of earnings, prospective net accumulations and medical and funeral bills in addition to pain and suffering.

The suit claimed Darling was deprived of water and other fluids during conditioning drills.

It also said the school failed to provide sufficient rest periods during the workouts, did not have adequate medical personnel or equipment available, and failed to recognize that the athlete was in distress.

Darling and his twin brother Devard learned they had a blood disorder, known as a sickle cell trait, after a pre-football physical before their freshman year at Florida State. The medical examiner said the disorder may have contributed to Darling's death, although no definite medical cause was cited.

Florida State officials then prohibited Devard Darling from playing receiver for the Seminoles. He transferred to Washington State and played for two seasons being chosen by the Baltimore Ravens in April's NFL draft.

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