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Vikings off the hook in Stringer death

Minneapolis, Minn. — A judge dismissed claims by Korey Stringer's widow against the Minnesota Vikings on Friday but allowed her wrongful death lawsuit to go forward against the team's 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.

Larson granted the Vikings' request but said the case can go trial against Dr. David Knowles and the Mankato Clinic. He dismissed claims against some other doctors.

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 Stringers expect their positions 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 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 took precedence, and they limit the amount of relieve Stringer's widow could seek.

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