Months after grand jury refused to file criminal indictments against a Woodmore High School football coach, a federal lawsuit is alleging the coach's conduct against a player resulted in brain injury.
The federal lawsuit, filed Monday, names Woodmore Local Schools and football coaches Britton Devier and Todd Bringman, alleging they organized and implemented an attack on against players in an effort to haze and punish them for lack of "hustle."
A 16-year-old player was treated for a traumatic brain injury after a Sept. 10, 2013 practice in excessively hot weather conditions.
The lawsuit states players were told by Coach Devier to put on full uniforms and pads after not completing drills to the satisfaction of coaches. Players who made it back to the field within eight minutes were told to form a line, as 'New Woodmore.' All players who took longer than eight minutes to return to the field after dressing were told to line up across from the others, eight to ten yards away, as 'Old Woodmore.' In full pads, and in excessive heat, Coach Bringman is alleged to have told 'New Woodmore' to hit 'Old Woodmore' as hard as possible and for 'Old Woodmore' to make no effort to defend themselves.
The case involves a player, assigned to 'Old Woodmore' during the Sept. 10, 2013 practice, who vomited, became disoriented, and collapsed after the drill. The lawsuit alleges no ambulance was called. The player returned home after practice and was immediately taken to a hospital by his parents. He was diagnosed with traumatic brain injury after spending a night in an Intensive Care Unit.
The lawsuit states the football drills used by Devier and Bringman did not comply with the Ohio High School Athletic Association's guidelines regarding the reduction of head and neck injuries in football.
An attorney for the player and his family said the purpose of the lawsuit is to stress the importance of protecting child athletes. "Drills in any sport should be used as a tool to increase skill and performance, not to punish players," said attorney Chuck Boyk. "When coaches use retaliation and punishment instead of encouragement to drive their drills, lines are quickly crossed and injuries occur."
Bringman resigned from his coaching position two weeks after the incident took place and after much finger-pointing from parents accusing him of being "abusive."
Immediately following the incident, the school district launched an investigation. School Superintendent Linda Bringman, the coach's sister-in-law, said, "Parent and community members don't always have all the information, but investigations are confidential."
In October, a grand jury refused to file any indictment after interviewing over four dozen witnesses in the case.