Family Agrees To $10 Million Settlement With School District

The parents of a high school basketball player from Georgia who passed away after collapsing during an outdoor practice session in the blazing heat announced on Tuesday that they had reached a $10 million settlement with the school district.

Imani Bell, who was a 16-year-old junior at the school when she passed away, will have her name added to the gym at Elite Scholars Academy as part of the settlement with Clayton County Public Schools. The family’s attorneys announced that a ceremony to mark that renaming was scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.

Eric Bell, Imani’s father, referred to the gym’s name as a “wonderful honor,” although he described the settlement as “bittersweet.”

In an interview over the phone, he stated, “We’d give anything to have her back here with us.

Imani’s family claimed in the wrongful death complaint they filed against the school administration that Imani passed away on August 13, 2019, while performing mandated conditioning drills for the girls’ basketball team. Imani had fainted after jogging up the football stadium steps. At the time, it was in the upper 90s Fahrenheit, and a heat advisory was in effect for the surrounding area.

Later that day, Imani passed away from a heat-related cardiac arrest and kidney failure, according to the lawsuit. According to the family’s attorneys, a Georgia Bureau of Investigation autopsy revealed that she had no underlying medical issues and that the only cause of her death was heat stroke brought on by hard physical activity in sweltering temperatures.

“Gut-wrenching. Heartbreaking. How is this even possible?” Last year, Eric Bell said.

He said that twice, ER doctors were able to revive his daughter.

Eric Bell said that the deceased “fell immediately back into cardiac arrest because it was so hot.” I was actually there, and that’s a memory I won’t ever forget, you know.”

In July 2021, accusations including murder and child cruelty were brought against two coaches, Larosa Walker-Asekere and Dwight Palmer, in connection with Imani’s passing. That legal matter is still pending.

In February 2021, Imani’s parents brought a wrongful death claim. According to online court documents, the case was resolved last month.

According to L. Chris Stewart, an attorney for the family, the hefty settlement sum sends a message to other school systems.

Every school district and sports program across the country will receive a message that “the lives of our students matter over athletics” and that “no child should die from heat exhaustion,” he stated. We applaud Clayton County for spreading that message across the country.

The family established the Keep Imani Foundation, which, according to their attorneys, will get funding in part from the compensation. According to Eric Bell, it will enable schools to purchase cold tubs to help avoid heat stroke deaths and provide scholarships for kids.

Bell told school administrators that he wants to communicate the following message: “Keep teaching coaches, keep teaching students about the dangers of heat and humidity, and try to be ready for a circumstance like this.”

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