Amanda Tatro dead at 31

Amanda Tatro, the former University of Minnesota graduate student who challenged the school in a high-profile legal battle, was found dead this morning. She was 31.

Longtime friend Eric Thompson said her death is a shock. "Nobody should die at [31]," he said.

According to Thompson, Tatro stayed up watching TV last night after her husband went to bed. When her husband got out of bed this morning, he found Tatro still on the couch and unresponsive. She was later pronounced dead.

Thompson believes Tatro's death is "likely due to complications from her RSD." Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy is a nerve disorder causing sensations of burning pain. It can negatively affect circulation.

"She had been dealing with [RSD] for six or seven years and had several surgeries to get electronic stimulators to deaden the pain," Thompson said. "She just had an extensive surgery in January or February."

Tatro's death comes less than a week after the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled the University of Minnesota was legally justified in punishing Tatro for a string of controversial Facebook posts she published while studying mortuary science in late 2009.

Reached for comment today, Jordan Kushner, Tatro's attorney, said he and Tatro were preparing to petition the U.S. Supreme Court to hear an appeal of her case.

Said Thompson: "She was a fighter, which is why she went up against the U of M like she did," adding that Tatro was just wrapping up an internship as a mortician.

Thompson is about 50 years old. He said the notion his friend would handle his funeral "gave me some comfort."

"Now, I'm going to be going to hers," he said.

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