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May 18, 2000

Pitt settles with former football player

The University has settled out of court with a former Pitt football player who is a quadriplegic because of a practice injury.

On March 23, 1996, Demale Stanley, then a wide receiver from Belle Glade, Fla., crashed into a padded cement wall at the Cost Center. The next day, on orders from his coaches, Stanley ran the same route and crashed into the wall again. His neck was broken in the accident.

Stanley's lawyers said in a May 1 news release that the settlement was for $31 million, a total that is believed to include interest and annuity earnings over Stanley's lifetime.

Pitt says the settlement amount is actually about $5 million. In addition, Stanley's medical expenses will continue to be covered (as they have since the accident) by a University-paid NCAA catastrophic injury insurance policy provided to all Pitt varsity athletes, according to a Pitt statement.

University officials accused one of Stanley's lawyers, Willie Gary of the Florida firm of Gary, Williams and Parenti, of violating a confidentiality agreement and of inappropriately portraying Pitt as having been negligent in Stanley's injury.

"The University at all times denied any liability and maintains that there was no negligence involved," said the Pitt statement. "Further, and contrary to the news release issued by attorney Gary, the resolution of the matter was to be confidential."

As for Gary's announcement of the settlement amount, Pitt spokesperson Ken Service said: "To be honest, folks at our end don't know where the $31 million figure comes from. We have not been able to track that back to anything that makes sense."

— Bruce Steele

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