Yesterday, former UCLA football player John Lopez filed suit against the NCAA, UCLA, Jim Mora, Adrian Klemm, and head football trainer Anthony Venute claiming, according to TMZ, “they didn’t do enough to protect him both before he suffered concussions and afterward.” He is also saying that he suffered “short-term memory loss, depression and ‘drastic changes in his demeanor.’” while claiming that the effects from the head injuries caused him to attempt to commit suicide in December 2016.
Later in the day, Ben Bolch of the LA Times reported that, in addition to Lopez, two more former players also filed suit yesterday. Poasi Moala is also alleging that he suffered traumatic head injuries and is experiencing symptoms linked to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
The third lawsuit, from former Bruin lineman Zach Bateman, claims that he suffered severe injuries to both of his feet which “occurred and worsened because of negligent conduct.” According to Bolch, Bateman’s lawsuit also alleges “he was discouraged from seeking medical attention for his injuries and compelled to return to play before receiving treatment or allowing his injuries to heal.”
All three former players are represented by the same attorney, who told Bolch that the lawsuits “all have in common is the pattern of brutality and intentional disregard for player health and safety by coach Mora and his staff at UCLA.”
UCLA released a statement which said, in part:
We strongly deny and will defend ourselves against the allegations made in the lawsuit. We handle every injury with the highest standard of care, and take potential head injuries very seriously. As one of the world’s leading research institutions, and a partner in the largest-ever concussion research study conducted by the U.S. Department of Defense and NCAA, we believe our concussion protocol is among the strongest in the country.
Of the three players, we know the most about Lopez’s claims.
Lopez tells TMZ that he “almost immediately” suffered his first-ever concussion during that training camp. He also is saying that Mora and his coaching staff didn’t take “proper steps to safely return him back to the field.”
Lopez also says that he suffered another concussion the following August in San Bernardino and that the drills he was put through upon his return were “unnecessarily brutal.”
Lopez suffered a third head injury in December 2015 and “his post-concussion symptoms were so bad, he was forced to medically retire from the team.”
Of course, we know that the first few years of Mora’s tenure were marked by training camp practices that were brutal because the team traveled to the heat of San Bernardino during Jim Mora’s first four years as head coach of the Bruins because just about every player who spoke about the San Bernardino camps said they were.
But the fact is we don’t know all the details at this point. We will be sure to follow events related to this as they develop.