The parents of a Tennessee State football player who died after collapsing during a practice last fall are suing the university for wrongful death.
Wayne Jones III, a 19-year-old walk-on freshman defensive back, died Nov. 7 at after collapsing at a team workout. In the suit filed on in Tennessee’s Division of Claims, Wayne Jones Jr. and Sonya Johns say an “unreasonable period of time elapsed before anyone approached him or attempted to provide any help” after their son collapsed.
Jones’ parents are seeking $5 million in punitive damages, though the state of Tennessee can’t be held liable for more than $300,000 in wrongful death cases under state law. Tennessee State is a state university.
“We think it’s a serious case and we’re going to test that issue with the courts and see if the court agrees with us, that punitive damages should be considered,” said Joe Haynes, the lawyer representing Jones’ parents.
The complaint says that Jones told Tennessee State coach Rod Reed he wasn’t feeling well before practice and asked to be excused, but that he participated in the workout “upon being challenged.”
“The Tennessee State University family continues to mourn the tragic loss of Wayne Jones III,” university spokesman Rick DelaHaya said. “The university has extended and continues to extend its thoughts and prayers to the family. We are reviewing the complaint that was filed on the parents’ behalf in the Tennessee Claims Commission and have no further comment.”
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