Request for change of venue in O'Neal case halted

Tuesday, April 8, 2008 | 11:18 p.m. CDT; updated 1:26 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, March 10, 2009

COLUMBIA — Hopes for a potential change of venue in the wrongful death suit of Aaron O’Neal have been halted, at least temporarily, after a Boone County Circuit Court judge ruled the foundation for the move to be “vague, overbroad and burdensome,” according to Missouri

O’Neal, 19, was a redshirt freshman when he collapsed during a voluntary MU football practice in the summer of 2005. His parents,


July 12, 2005: MU football player Aaron O’Neal, 19, dies after a voluntary practice. Aug. 23, 2005: Attorneys for O’Neal’s father file a wrongful death suit against 14 MU athletics’ employees. Valerie Rao, Boone County medical examiner, names viral meningitis as the cause of O’Neal’s death. July 2006: The O’Neals’ attorneys amend the lawsuit, alleging that MU failed to identify O’Neal as a carrier of sickle cell trait. March 12, 2007: Hamp Ford, a private Columbia attorney, asks that certain statements be removed from the lawsuit. March 28, 2007: Judge Gary Oxenhandler rules that certain statements be stricken from the lawsuit and that the O’Neals’ attorneys specify which guidelines were violated. Feb. 11: Judge Gary Oxenhandler hears a motion to quash a subpoena by attorneys for Lonnie and Deborah O’Neal. — From a previous Missourian article

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Lonnie and Deborah O’Neal, sued 14 employees of the MU athletics department, including MU athletics director Mike Alden and MU football

coach Gary Pinkel.

Attorneys for the O’Neals subpoenaed 16 different types of information from MU, including the number of MU students in Boone County and a list of the Tiger Quarterback Club of Columbia contributors from the past five years. The O’Neals’ attorneys said the subpoena might create cause for a change of venue request, proving that Boone County residents could be biased in a suit involving MU.

A February hearing was requested by attorneys for the university, seeking to quash the subpoena.

Boone County Circuit Court Judge Gary Oxenhandler sided with MU attorneys and ruled that the subpoena was too broad.

A motion hearing for the wrongful death lawsuit is set for April 14.

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