High School Football

Lawsuit settled, sealed in death of high school football player

HENDERSON — The parents of a teen who died in 2006 during football practice at Henderson County High School have agreed to settle a lawsuit over his death, but terms have been sealed.

Ryan Owens was 16 when he died while practicing with his team on a hot, humid day in July.

The negligence suit had been scheduled for trial in November, but Judge Steve Hayden sent the parties back for more mediation.

The boy's father, Randy Owens, told The Gleaner the settlement "was a bitter pill to swallow," but he was relieved the case had ended.

It lasted five years, in part because of a disagreement between insurance companies over which one bore the most responsibility, according to the newspaper.

"This case has gone on a long time," said Bowling Green attorney Michael Owsley, who helped represent school personnel. "The school folks are glad to put this behind them."

School personnel had contended Ryan's death was due to underlying cardiac disease.

Randy Owens said the lawsuit helped him and his wife accomplish one goal — to learn more about why their son died.

"We did learn more than we would have if we had not pursued the lawsuit," he said.

He said his son's death had played a part in changes to state law and athletic regulations that deal with heat.

"Five years is a long time to suffer through reliving Ryan's death, but a lot of changes have been made because of Ryan, and a lot of children have been saved because of Ryan," he said.

Some of the original defendants were dismissed from the case; the judge allowed it to go forward against several school personnel and a doctor.