Neither side had much to say late last week about a wrongful death lawsuit filed against Western Carolina athletic personnel by the family of a football player who died shortly after a 2009 voluntary workout in Cullowhee.

A Winston-Salem lawyer representing the family of Ja’Quayvin Smalls did not return messages seeking comment, and a WCU spokesman said only that the case has not gone to mediation despite a court’s order for a mediated settlement conference.

Filed in January in Jackson County’s superior court, the wrongful death lawsuit is seeking “a sum in excess of $10,000” and alleges “information about sickle cell trait and exertional sickling was available to all … defendants, who chose to ignore it.”

A junior college transfer, Smalls died shortly after participating in his first voluntary workout at WCU on July 8, 2009. The official autopsy report — released in November 2009 by Sylva-based medical examiner Dr. Lawrence Selby — said complications from an enlarged heart were the cause of Smalls’ death. The report also listed sickle cell trait and exertion as contributing factors.

Defendants listed from WCU are athletic director Chip Smith, football coach Dennis Wagner, defensive coordinator Matt Pawlowski, head athletic trainer Steven Honbarger, assistant athletic trainer Brandon King and former strength coach Brad Ohrt .

In a response filed on their behalf, the defendants acknowledge that Smalls and his mother, LaSonia Smalls, disclosed that Ja’Quayvin had sickle cell trait on a form entitled “Western Carolina University Athletic-training Services Prospective Student-Athlete Questionnaire.”

The form was filled out in December 2008, while Smalls was being recruited by the Catamounts. However, the defendants’ response also mentions that “Any remaining allegations … including any inferences to be drawn therefrom, are denied.”

At the time the autopsy was released, Smalls’ mother told the Citizen-Times she knew her son had sickle cell trait but nothing else.

“I didn’t know about the heart disease,” she said at the time. “If I knew, I would have never let him play.”

A little more than a year later, the suit was filed listing Smalls’ father, Henry Malcolm Smalls, as plaintiff. The complaint alleges the defendants “negligently, grossly negligently and willfully and wantonly breached their duty to Ja’Quayvin Smalls” by — among other allegations — failing to “develop policies and procedures to safely train and condition athletes with sickle cell trait.”

One response by the defense in court documents is that Smalls “knew he was a carrier for sickle cell trait, yet failed to take any protective measures on his own behalf and failed to request any accommodation from defendants at the voluntary summer weight lifting and conditioning drills” on the evening he died.

The case had been set to go to trial earlier this month was was extended after Melissa L. Trippe, special deputy attorney general, replaced Alexander McC. Peters, who withdrew as defendants’ counsel in August.

The new mediation and discovery deadline is Dec. 16.