HARTSVILLE, SC (WMBF) – The wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of a Hartsville High football player who collapsed and died during a game in 2012 has been settled out of court, according to documents obtained by WMBF news.
The settlement was finalized on November 9, 2016, over two years after the lawsuit was initially filed by the family of linemen Ronald Rouse, who was 18 at the time of his death.
The family will receive a total of $260,000 in the settlement: $65,000 paid by the Lake Robinson Rescue Squad and Arch Insurance Group, $75,000 paid by the South Carolina Board of Education, the South Carolina High School League, Darlington County Emergency Preparedness, and the Darlington County and SC Insurance Reserve Fund, and $120,000 paid by the Darlington County School District and SC Board of Insurance Trust, according to court documents.
Rouse's parents filed the wrongful death suit in September of 2014, seeking damages in an amount to be determined by a jury, against the Defendants: The South Carolina Board of Education, the Darlington County School Board, Hartsville High School, the South Carolina High School League, Lake Robinson Rescue Squad, Darlington County Emergency Preparedness, and Darlington County.
Last week, the Darlington County School District held the first reading of "Ronald Rouse's Law," which directs the State Board of Education that would require students receive, at least once during their four years of high school, instruction in CPR, and incorporate CPR training and AED awareness into the State Health and Safety Education Standards, according to the school board's meeting agenda.
Rouse was playing in the school's homecoming football game in October 2012 when he suddenly collapsed on the sidelines. According to Audrey Childers, a spokeswoman for the Darlington County School District, Rouse was walking onto the field for the next defensive play. He got into his stance, but immediately stood up and signaled for a time out.
As Rouse was walking off of the field, he collapsed. Doctors, coaches, and athletic trainers all ran to his aide. They were able to revive him, but as he was walking to the sidelines he collapsed again.
He was taken to the hospital, but was declared dead at 8:45 p.m.
An autopsy report showed Rouse died from a fatal and sudden cardiac arrhythmia. The coroner said results show it was brought on by congenital enlarged heart. Doctors told the family that even with an EKG, Ronald would have died eventually from the heart condition. If they would have known, he may have lived longer. But he wouldn't have been able to continue to play football.
The wrongful death suit alleged gross negligence by the Defendants in causing Rouse's death, as well as negligent infliction of emotional distress on his parents.
The lawsuit claimed that Rouse's death can be traced to a high school physical on May 15, 2012, which produced abnormal results, but nothing was done to address the findings. Then in the summer before his death, Rouse fainted while playing basketball.
"Both his coach and athletics trainer were aware of the fainting and yet nothing was done to address it," the suit claimed.
According to the lawsuit, the Lake Robinson Rescue Squad had agreed to attend all Hartsville High School home football games, but they were not present the night Rouse died. It took EMS nine minutes to arrive on scene after the first 911 call, according to records. Rouse was dead by the time he arrived at the hospital.
The suit claimed negligence, carelessness, and reckless disregard for the safety of Rouse on the part of the South Carolina Board of Education, the South Carolina High School League, the Darlington County School Board, the Lake Robinson Rescue Squad, and Darlington County.
As a direct result of the "negligent, careless, reckless, wanton, grossly negligent and willful acts or inactions by the Defendants," Rouse's family has incurred funeral, burial and medical expenses, and emotional and physical distress.