NFL Widow Loses Claim Against Vikings

Kelci Stringer, widow of former Minnesota Vikings offensive tackle Korey Stringer, accompanied by Korey's agent James Gould, right,speaks at a news conference in Minneapolis, Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2002, to announce a wrongful death lawsuit in the death of Stringer, who died of heatstroke during football practice last August.
A judge dismissed claims by Korey Stringer's widow against the Minnesota Vikings on Friday but allowed her $100 million wrongful death lawsuit to go forward against the team's training camp physician and his clinic.

The Vikings had asked Hennepin County District Judge Gary Larson to throw out the lawsuit filed by Kelci Stringer, who claims her husband didn't receive proper medical care when he collapsed during training camp on July 31, 2001.

Korey Stringer, 27, a 335-pound Pro Bowl lineman, died early the next morning.

In a 103-page opinion, Larson granted the Vikings' request, but he said the case can go to trial against Dr. David Knowles and the Mankato Clinic. He dismissed claims against two other doctors employed by the Vikings.

Kelci Stringer's attorney, Stanley Chesley, of Cincinnati, said the Stringer family intends to go forward against Knowles and the clinic, and will appeal Larson's dismissal of the claims against the Vikings trainers and coaches and two other team physicians.

The lawsuit is scheduled to go to trial June 9.

"The Stringers expect their position that Vikings employees and physicians were responsible for Korey's death to be upheld in the end," Chesley said.

The Vikings welcomed the decision.

"Today's court ruling ends a very difficult period for the entire Vikings family," the team said in a statement. "While we are very confident that Judge Larson's very thorough opinion followed what we believe is the appropriate law in Minnesota, it does not diminish the loss of Korey to his family and the Vikings. Korey and his family will always be a very important part of the Vikings organization."

The case has turned on issues of doctor-patient relationships, the intricacies of worker's compensation law and physical demands placed on professional athletes. A key legal issue was whether the Vikings were grossly negligent in treating Stringer.

Absent gross negligence, state workers compensation laws take precedence, and they limit the amount of relief Stringer's widow can get from the team.