The family of a 19-year-old University of Maryland football player who died following a team workout in May has hired the Baltimore law firm that represented the family of Freddie Gray, the Baltimore man who died in April 2015 after being injured while in police custody.
Jordan McNair, an offensive lineman for Maryland, died last month after collapsing during an organized team workout two weeks earlier. McNair’s family wrote earlier this week in a web posting that McNair died as a result of heatstroke.
Attorney Billy Murphy said in an interview that McNair’s family is exploring its legal options. “We’re in the process of doing a thorough investigation of the incident,” he said. “We are waiting for the receipt of the medical records involved and the University of Maryland’s investigation and the interviews with those who saw what happened.”
Murphy, sitting next to his colleague Malcolm P. Ruff., added: “We are hard at work determining the appropriate legal remedy for the family for this tragic injury and death.”
Maryland declined to provide McNair’s cause of death at a news conference June 14, citing respect for the privacy of McNair’s family. The school is participating in an external review conducted by Walters Inc., an athletic training consulting firm that is evaluating Maryland’s procedures and protocols related to McNair’s death. The review is additionally evaluating the football program’s procedures and protocols related to “planning and conducting team conditioning and practice sessions; and for responding to health emergencies during or after those sessions,” according to a university spokesman.
The review began in late June and could require up to 90 days, according to a university spokeswoman.
Murphy’s firm, Murphy Falcon & Murphy, helped negotiate a $6.4 million settlement with the city of Baltimore following Gray’s death. Earlier this year, Murphy’s firm helped secure a $3.5 million settlement with the District of Columbia following the fatal shooting of motorcyclist Terrence Sterling by a District police officer.
McNair was hospitalized following an organized team workout on May 29 at Maryland’s outdoor practice fields. McNair, a sophomore offensive lineman from the Baltimore suburb of Randallstown, was 6-foot-4 and weighed 325 pounds. The workout, which began around 4:15 p.m. with the temperature at approximately 80 degrees, was designed and supervised by Maryland’s strength and conditioning staff.
Ruff, one of McNair’s family attorneys, said the day the player became ill was the hottest day of the year to that point with 70 percent humidity. Ruff said his firm interviewed several players at the time who said McNair showed signs of “distress” and was unable to finish a conditioning test under his own power.
Certified athletic trainers were present throughout, according to an account provided by the university, and DJ Durkin, the football team’s head coach, was also present. University officials told reporters that McNair had trouble recovering after a series of 110-yard sprints — a standard conditioning test they said he completed — which athletic trainers noticed at the completion of the workout.
It was then that the athletic trainers “began supporting an active recovery and providing care,” according to the university. McNair was soon transported to the team’s indoor facility, and airlifted to R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore at approximately 6 p.m. He died 15 days later .