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Football coach's punishment leads to brain injury lawsuit

A California high school football player is claiming that his coach ordered his teammates to purposely injure him as punishment for missing a day of practice. The sixteen-year-old says that he suffered a partially collapsed lung and a concussion, which is a form of brain damage, after his football coach told the other players on the team to tackle him repeatedly during practice this August.

The player's mother took her son to the local hospital soon after he came home from practice because he was vomiting. He was treated for a partially collapsed lung at that time, but his concussion wasn't diagnosed until two days later, when he went to his own doctor complaining of headaches and a feeling of fuzziness.

The boy's family has filed a claim against the coach and the local school district alleging that school authorities knew about other possibly criminal incidents involving the coach, but failed to discipline or fire him. The football coach, who also teaches science and physical education, has been employed by the school district for four years.

The student says he was punished after he and another player decided to skip practice to go to the river. When the two boys showed up the next day, the coach ordered them to run two extra miles and then told the other players to tackle them in an 11-on-2 exercise. After the first tackle, the coach reportedly told the boys' teammates to hit them harder the next time.

An attorney for the player says he is not representing the other boy and does not know whether he was injured or not. School authorities say they are investigating the claim, but a preliminary report says that the allegations were unfounded. The school district has 45 days to settle the claim or a lawsuit will be filed on the boy's behalf.

Sources: Appeal-Democrat.com, "East Nicolaus player's claim: Football coach abusive," Ryan Klocke and Ashley Gebb, Sept. 9, 2011

USA Today, "Coach's punishment injured California player, claim says," Jim Halley, Sept. 13, 2011

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