Payment approved in FSU player's death

Sixteen years after a Florida State University football player died during conditioning drills, the Senate on Tuesday voted 34-2 to send a bill (HB 6515) to the governor that would lead to the university paying $1.8 million to the family of Devaughn Darling.

The freshman football player died during strenuous drills in February 2001.

His family filed a wrongful-death lawsuit, alleging FSU was negligent in its supervision of Darling, who carried the sickle cell trait and had complained to teammates that he was having chest pains during the drills.

A court-ordered settlement awarded $2 million to Dennis Darling Sr. and Wendy Smith, Darling's parents, but the state only paid $200,000 because of sovereign immunity limits.

Since 2005, lawmakers have been filing claim bills seeking full payment for the settlement.

Under the bill, which was approved in a 112-4 vote by the House last week, FSU would pay the family the remaining $1.8 million, with the stipulation that up to $360,000 can cover legal fees, up to $90,000 would go for lobbying fees and $41,000 would cover related costs.

Sen. Oscar Braynon, D-Miami Gardens, and Rep. Shevrin Jones, D-West Park, sponsored the legislation.

The dissenting votes in the Senate were cast by Gainesville Republican Keith Perry and Lakeland Republican Kelli Stargel.