The family of Marquese D. Meadow, a Morgan State freshman football player who died from complications related to heatstroke in August 2014, has filed a lawsuit against the university and Good Samaritan Hospital, arguing his death was preventable.
Meadow, a Fort Washington resident, became sick during a practice on Aug. 10 and died 14 days later. The defensive lineman was 18.
"This is a tragedy that should have been avoided," said Baltimore attorney Laurence A. Marder, who is representing Benita Meadow. "This young man should be alive."
The suit, filed in Baltimore City Circuit Court on Tuesday, alleges that Meadow and his teammates were forced by the Bears coaching staff to participate in a "punishment practice" on the evening of Sunday, Aug. 10, 2014, to discipline several individuals for violating team rules.
According to the suit, practice began at 7 p.m. in 82-degree heat and players were required to start running at 7:15 p.m. for over an hour. At 8:15 p.m., Meadow was observed to stumble and appear disoriented. After being pulled from the field, his temperature was not accurately taken or recorded, and the only attempts made by the university's training staff to lower Meadow's body temperature was to apply cold water to his armpits and groin, the suit alleges.
According to the suit, after arriving at Good Samaritan Hospital at 8:41 p.m., Meadow was confused, lethargic and unresponsive but his rectal temperature was not taken until 9:45 p.m., when it was 106.6 degrees.
The suit alleges that the next day, Meadow was transferred to Johns Hopkins Hospital where he was diagnosed with liver and kidney failure and brain damage because of a loss of oxygen flow. He remained in the hospital's intensive care unit on a respirator before suffering a seizure on Aug. 23 and dying the next day, according to the suit.
"We believe that the case is very, very strong, and that if they had responded within 90 minutes, he would be alive," Marder said. "It's 100-percent treatable if you treat it correctly. People do not die of exertional heatstroke unless there's a breach of the standard of care or some kind of impossibility defense and that's not applicable. It's not like he was out in the desert somewhere."
Morgan State did not respond to a request for comment.