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Georgia School District Pays $10M to Settle Lawsuit over Imani Bell's Death

Adam WellsNovember 29, 2022

The ball falls through the basket during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game between Texas Tech and Louisiana Tech Monday, Nov. 14, 2022, in Lubbock, Texas. (AP Photo/Justin Rex)
AP Photo/Justin Rex

The family of Imani Bell, a high school basketball player who died in 2019, has settled its lawsuit against the Georgia school district.

According to ESPN’s Daniel Murphy, attorneys for Bell’s family said the school district has agreed to pay $10 million to settle the wrongful death lawsuit.

"I think for once a school district made a statement that a child's life is more important than any sport," said attorney Justin Miller of Stewart Miller Simmons, which represented the family. "That should be followed by every school around the country."

Bell died in August 2019 at age 16 after she collapsed while running stairs outside the Elite Scholars Academy during a conditioning drill. Murphy noted a medical examiner determined her death was because of heatstroke.

Per the Associated Press, the temperature in the area where Bell was going through the drill was "in the high 90s Fahrenheit" and there was a heat advisory in effect.

Bell's family filed a lawsuit against school officials, including principal Shonda Shaw and athletic director Jason Greenlee, in February 2021.

According to Murphy, the Georgia High School Association has "specific rules for schools to monitor and mitigate the risks of playing sports in the heat" that Bell's family and their attorneys said were not followed.

Eric Bell, Imani's father, told Murphy the family intends to use the settlement funds to establish the Keep Imani Foundation in memory of his daughter.

"The foundation plans to create an engineering scholarship, help children who need glasses and try to provide cold tubs for every high school athletic department in the state of Georgia in hopes of avoiding future heat-related deaths," Murphy wrote.

Head coach Larosa Walker-Asekere and assistant coach Dwight Palmer were indicted by a grand jury in July 2021 for "conducting outdoor conditioning training for student-athletes in dangerous heat, resulting in the death of Imani Bell due to hyperthermia and rhabdomyolysis."

The criminal case against Walker-Asekere and Palmer remains ongoing.