Yesterday, a well-known Kentucky high school football coach was charged with reckless homicide in the heat-related death of one of his players. The player, 15-year-old Max Gilpin, collapsed during an August practice, and died three days later. According to the allegations, Gilpin’s body temperature reached 107 degrees and witnesses said that coach Jason Stinson denied the boy water.
Interestingly, the day after Stinson was charged with a crime, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals decided Davis v. Carter, a case eerily similar to Stinson’s. In Davis, the parents of a high school football player brought suit against three coaches for violation of the player’s constitutional rights, as well as causes of action in tort (presumably wrongful death). The player died after the coaches allegedly ignored signs of dehydration, and for denying the player water during a practice.
The coaches contended that they were entitled to qualified immunity, and that their conduct did not rise to the level of a violation of constitutional rights. Ultimately, court agreed.