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Frostburg football player’s wrongful death lawsuit may be settled

A multi-week jury trial stemming from a lawsuit filed by the family of a deceased Frostburg State University football player against the NCAA was set to begin next week, but the parties asked the matter to be stayed for 60 days for settlement discussions.

“The trial has been postponed to allow the parties to complete the process of settling this matter,” said Paul Anderson, one of the attorneys representing the family of Derek Sheely.

Anderson, of the Klamann Law Firm in Kansas City, said he could not comment on the case further.

Sheely’s family filed suit against the NCAA, coaches and staff at Frostburg and a helmet manufacturer in 2013 claiming wrongful death and survival action.

On Aug. 19, 2011, Sheely was taking part in a practice drill described by teammates as “ridiculously dangerous,” where he collided at full-speed with a teammate head-first dozens of times in a span of 15 minutes, the family alleged in the complaint, filed in Montgomery County Circuit Court. The drill was overseen by Assistant Coach Jamie Schumacher.

According to the complaint, the senior fullback performed the drill again the next day under Schumacher’s supervision and began bleeding from his forehead. Assistant Athletic Trainer Michael Sweitzer Jr. put a bandage on Sheely’s forehead but did not perform a concussion test or check to see if Sheely’s helmet was properly fitted. Sheely continued participating in the drill for the next two days and continued bleeding from his forehead, the family alleges.

On Aug. 22, Sheely told an assistant coach “he didn’t feel right” after the drill but continued to practice, the complaint states. He walked off the field after a scrimmage and collapsed, lapsing into a coma. He died six days later “due to complications from massive brain swelling caused by second-impact syndrome,” the lawsuit states.

“Utter incompetence, egregious misconduct, false hope and a reckless disregard for player health and safety led to the tragic death of Derek Sheely,” the family alleged.

A jury trial was expected to begin Monday and last 24 days, according to electronic court filings.

Legal Editor Danny Jacobs contributed to this story.