Minner Vines Injury Lawyers, PLLC (MVM Law) was honored to represent Jackie & Kyle Brace and Kaylee (Wagnon), Grant’s sister, in a wrongful death lawsuit against the University of the Cumberlands and its staff. Grant Brace was an exceptional student-athlete who tragically died from a 100% preventable and treatable exertional heatstroke. The family’s goal was to ensure that Grant’s death would help prevent future tragedies among student-athletes.

Grant Brace – An Accomplished Student-Athlete

Grant was an accomplished high school and collegiate wrestler who achieved three state championships in high school. In addition, he was a proud member of the National Honor Society. His untimely death serves as a reminder of the importance of proper supervision and care for student-athletes.

Settlement Details

The defendants in the case, including the University of the Cumberlands, its president, athletic director, head coach, assistant coach, and athletic trainer, agreed to pay $14,121,699 to resolve the family’s claims. This significant amount represents Grant’s birthday, 12/16/1999. The family hopes to emphasize the consequences of ignoring the risks of heat-related illnesses by publicizing the settlement amount.

B.R.A.C.E. Protocol – Aiming for a Safer Future

To prevent future tragedies, the family worked with Doug Casa at the Korey Stringer Institute to develop the B.R.A.C.E. protocol. The University of the Cumberlands will train its coaches and athletes on this protocol and donate any unused funds to the Korey Stringer Institute. The family also plans to promote the protocol nationwide.

The B.R.A.C.E. Protocol includes:

  • Be aware and prepared
  • React quickly
  • Activate 911 immediately
  • Cool aggressively on-site
  • Evaluate core temperature as the person cools

Exertional Heatstroke – A Preventable Tragedy

Exertional heatstroke (EHS) is a severe form of heat illness that occurs when the body’s temperature regulation system is overwhelmed by excessive heat production during intense physical activity. It is characterized by a rapid rise in core body temperature (above 104°F or 40°C), central nervous system dysfunction, and multi-organ damage. EHS can be life-threatening if not promptly recognized and treated. Exertional heatstroke continues to claim the lives of student-athletes across the country, despite being entirely preventable and treatable. Notable cases include NFL offensive lineman Korey Stringer in 2001 and University of Maryland’s Jordan McNair in 2018.

Causes of Exertional Heatstroke

Exertional heatstroke occurs when the body generates heat faster than it can dissipate, causing a dangerous increase in core body temperature. Factors contributing to EHS include:

  • High environmental temperatures and humidity
  • Inadequate acclimatization to hot conditions
  • Insufficient hydration
  • Intense physical exertion

Recognizing the Signs and Symptoms of Exertional Heatstroke

Early recognition of EHS is crucial to ensure timely and appropriate treatment. Symptoms can vary but may include:

  • High body temperature (above 104°F or 40°C)
  • Rapid heart rate and breathing
  • Profuse sweating or sudden cessation of sweating
  • Hot, flushed, and sweaty skin
  • Weakness, dizziness, or lightheadedness
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Confusion, agitation, or disorientation
  • Seizures or loss of consciousness

Treatment and Management of Exertional Heatstroke

Immediate action is essential to minimize complications and prevent fatalities from EHS. Key steps in treating EHS include:

  1. Move the affected individual to a cooler, shaded area.
  2. Call for emergency medical assistance (dial 911 or your local emergency number).
  3. Remove excess clothing and equipment to facilitate heat dissipation.
  4. Initiate aggressive whole-body cooling, preferably by immersing the person in cold water (ideally 35-59°F or 1.7-15°C) or applying ice packs to the neck, armpits, and groin.
  5. Monitor core body temperature and continue cooling until it drops below 102°F (38.9°C).
  6. Provide fluids for rehydration if the individual is conscious and able to swallow.

Preventing Exertional Heatstroke With the B.R.A.C.E. Protocol

Prevention is the most effective approach to reducing the incidence of EHS. Through the implementation of the B.R.A.C.E. Protocol and increased awareness, the Brace family hopes to prevent further exertional heatstroke tragedies and ensure that other student-athletes do not suffer the same fate as Grant.

About The Firm

Minner Vines Injury Lawyers, PLLC, the firm responsible for the settlement, has over 100 years of local and national litigation experience and has won over $1 billion in verdicts and settlements. The firm has substantial experience in high-stakes personal injury and other complex litigation cases in Kentucky, Alabama, and across the country.

For interviews with Minner Vines Injury Lawyers, PLLC or the Brace Family, please contact Brian Vines (205-568-7800) or Sandy Greene (859-550-2900, ext. 1603).