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Injured Player's Suit Against U of Ga Tossed on Technicality

By Tanya Roth, Esq. on January 05, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

You've heard the expression,"the long arm of the law." Well, the state of Georgia has an even longer reach, as former cornerback Decory Bryant learned to his disappointment on December 4th. Athens-Clarke County Superior Court Judge Lawton Stephens dismissed Bryant's suit against the Athletic Department of the University of Georgia for failing to file the insurance forms that would have provided a cushion after the career destroying injury Bryant suffered on the field in 2003.

As a talented player at the University of Georgia looking at an NFL career, Bryant had the option of purchasing insurance to protect him and his future earnings against catastrophic injury. According to Bryant, in 2003, he informed the assistant athletic director he wanted the insurance available to him just before he played the game that ended his career. In his suit, Bryant claims the official never completed those forms and days later, during the game against the University of Alabama-Birmingham, Bryant was hit so hard that his neck was broken, leaving doctors doubtful he would ever walk again, let alone play football. He filed suit in 2004.

Since his injury, Bryant has regained the ability to walk and even run but as of three years later, still suffered from neck pain and intense headaches. 

The judge's decision to dismiss the suit was based on the theory of sovereign immunity, which protects the state from certain civil suits by individuals. As a state school, the judge found the Athletic Association of the University of Georgia to be an "arm of the state" and therefore protected by the immunity from Bryant's suit. The judge also found Bryant failed to properly notify the school before filing suit.

Bryant has not filed an appeal at this time.

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