By RENALDO DORSETT
A LENGTHY legal battle finally reached a resolution and, according to former NFL player Devard Darling, brought “closure” to his family.
The Florida Legislature passed a bill yesterday which said Darlings’ parents - Wendy Smith and Dennis Darling Sr - would receive $1.8 million for the death of their son, and Devard’s twin brother, Devaughn.
Devaughn Darling collapsed and died during offseason drills on February 27, 2001 following his freshman season as a linebacker with the Florida State Seminoles. A myriad of circumstances contributed to his death, including dehydration, physical overexertion, and complications as a sickle cell trait carrier.
FSU initially agreed to the settlement back in 2004 to avoid a trial, but the Darling Family was forced to wait nearly two decades for a resolution. They filed a lawsuit against the school in 2002 and settlement agreement for $2 million was reached two years later. FSU has denied any negligent conduct or wrongdoing in the matter.
The House approved the bill 112-4 on April 26, and it was also approved by the Senate 34-2 earlier this week.
The family filed claims bills for 13 consecutive legislative sessions, however, it was not heard in a committee in either chamber from 2005-2014. It was finally heard in one committee in the House and Senate in 2015.
“It is something we have been looking forward to for a long time,” Devard said. “My mom has wanted to see this all the way through. Finally, we can move on.”
Devard established the As One Foundation in 2007 in memory of Devaughn.
The foundation adopted a mission to educate and increase awareness of sickle cell trait while encouraging youngsters to achieve their dreams in the face of life’s challenges.
The Foundation also has an initiative, ‘Operation Hydration’, a sickle cell trait education and awareness presentation about the importance of hydration as prevention of athletic or fitness-related death.
Following Devaughn’s death, Devard transferred to Washington State where his stellar years with the Cougars led to his selection in the 2004 NFL Draft. He was selected in round three; pick 82 by the Baltimore Ravens.
In addition to the Ravens, he spent time with the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans over the course of a six year career.
The twin brothers, the younger brothers of former Olympian Dennis Darling, moved to the United States to complete their athletic and scholastic high school careers through the Frank Rutherford Elite Development Programme in Texas. They metriculated to FSU following standout careers at Stephen F. Austin in Sugar Land, Texas.