On Tuesday, famed attorney Ben Crump announced a wrongful death lawsuit regarding the November 2019 death of former University of New Mexico football player Nahje Flowers. Crump’s firm has represented such high profile cases as Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and the children from the Flint water crisis.
The defendants are the NCAA, former head football coach Bob Davie and the UNM Board of Regents.
The complaint alleges that the defendants were negligent in the case of Flowers’ suicide and that the NCAA was negligent in cases of other premature deaths of student athletes under their supervision.
According to the documents filed on Aug. 25, the NCAA — in its capacity as overseers of college sports — failed to design or implement sufficient policies to fulfill its duty of protecting student athletes’ health and well-being. This oversight funneled down through to the coaches — including and specifically Davie — and the Board of Regents as Davie’s employer.
Crump proposed in the complaint that Flowers’ suicide was the result of possible chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) – a unique neurological disorder that the Mayo Clinic describes as common among athletes who experience repeated head traumas. CTE has been found to be common in those who participate in contact sports such as football and boxing and causes symptoms resembling dementia and sometimes suicidal depression.
According to classaction.org, “in 2016, the NCAA agreed to settle a class action lawsuit that alleged the organization failed in its duty to adopt appropriate rules to protect athletes from the risks associated with concussions and to manage those risks.”
The plaintiffs include Flowers’ surviving parents – Vickie Gilmore and La’Vonte Flowers – as representatives of Flowers’ estate. They are seeking punitive and compensatory damages “sufficient to make the estate of Nahje Flowers whole for the wrongful death of decedent, including loss of future income and economic capacity, loss of the enjoyment of life (hedonic damages), loss of society and companionship of his parents and all other damages allowed by law,” as well as attorney’s fees and expenses incurred as a result of the lawsuit.
They are also seeking a jury trial, pre- and post-judgement interest and any other “relief that the court deems proper.”
This is a developing story.
Hevyn Heckes is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @H_Squared90