For Bechler's widow, suing Cytodyne may be her best redress. Her late husband logged 27 days of major-league experience, short of the minimum of 60 required to qualify for the major leagues' life insurance - which would pay $300,000 to slightly more than $1 million, depending on the circumstances of death. He may be eligible for a minor-league benefit, but that pays only about $20,000, said Beattie.
However, Orioles owner Peter Angelos has promised a significant contribution to a trust fund to make up for the player's failure to qualify for the pension, according to team officials.
The widow of NFL player Korey Stringer, a Minnesota Viking who died of heatstroke at the team's training camp in 2001, is trying to skirt Minnesota's workers' compensation system. She is demanding $100 million from the team, alleging its personnel were grossly negligent in their treatment of Stringer before and after he collapsed. The suit claims Vikings coach Mike Tice called Stringer a "big baby" for vomiting during workouts preceding his death, something the coach denies.
Orioles officials had admonished Bechler for his poor condition when he arrived at camp.
The Vikings, who argue that the case should be restricted to the workers' compensation system, point to circumstantial evidence that Stringer was taking ephedra and blame it for his death. Hennepin County (Minn.) Judge Gary Larson has dismissed several counts in the lawsuit.
Florida's laws do not require baseball teams to carry workers' compensation insurance, but the Orioles have purchased the coverage since 1988, said Nina Banister, a spokeswoman for Florida's Department of Financial Services.
It's not clear which state would have jurisdiction in the case. But in either event, Bechler may not even qualify for a claim. Maryland law restricts payments to "accidental injuries arising out of and during the course of employment." Florida's statutes are similar.
William R. Levasseur, a Baltimore-based attorney who represents employers and insurance companies in workers' compensation cases, said: "If Bechler was merely carrying out the duties of his assignment, and there were no unusual circumstances, there would be no claim. ... People have heart attacks all the time on the job."
Another attorney, Jeff Weinberg, of Goodman, Meagher & Enoch in Baltimore, said an exception in the Maryland law for "sunstroke" might be construed in Bechler's favor by the workers' compensation commission. "I think it would be a very good shot," he said.
Sun staff writer Joe Christensen contributed to this article.