Sunday, January 16, 2011

2nd witness says Scotty Eveland complained of headaches before collapse

See related case:
What happens when a coach tries to protect a student's health? the Coach James Ted Carter case

Sept. 2011: Attorney Dan Shinoff's request for gag order in Eveland case is denied

Kids are taught to do what coaches and teachers want without question.
Why? Because it's easier that way--for the adults. I think we'd have a
better-educated population if adults were willing to subject at least some of
their decisions to a critical-thinking process involving students. Sometimes adults are wrong, and there is no need for them to be ashamed of this fact. It's inevitable that adults will make mistakes.

What they should be ashamed of is covering up their mistakes and lying
about them. Of course school employees are told to keep quiet. Also,
school attorneys instruct witnesses not to answer questions during
depositions. I wonder how many times this happened during the 50
depositions in this case? It would be a lot easier for the courts to administer
justice if lawyers instructed their clients to tell the truth.

2nd witness says Scotty Eveland complained of headaches before collapse
By J. Harry Jones
January 15, 2011

SAN MARCOS — A former student trainer has testified that a few days after Mission Hills High football player Scotty Eveland collapsed during a game in 2007, the school’s lead trainer confided that Eveland had asked to sit out because he was suffering from headaches and disorientation but was called in anyway by the head coach.

The account, given during a deposition completed Wednesday, corroborates testimony from another former student trainer who was deposed in October.

The San Marcos Unified School District has maintained that Eveland showed no sign of medical problems before the collapse. Scott Gommel, the lead trainer, said the same during his deposition four months ago. A judge has agreed to let lawyers for Eveland’s family redepose Gommel because of the new information.

Eveland has remained in a mostly vegetative state since his collapse. Doctors think he will need constant medical care that could cost millions of dollars over his lifetime.

Testimony from the two former student trainers is part of evidence collection in an ongoing lawsuit filed by Eveland’s family against the school district.

San Marcos Unified is confident it will “absolutely be vindicated” at trial, said Daniel Shinoff, a lawyer for the district. He also urged that facts be decided in a court of law and not in the court of public opinion.

Shinoff said it’s a complicated case “in terms of people’s perceptions, people’s recollection, and there’s a large passage of time.”

On Thursday, school officials denied a request to interview Gommel and the head football coach, Chris Hauser, who has not been deposed.

Robert Francavilla, an attorney for Eveland’s family, said the latest deposition confirms what really happened.

“Scotty lives every day with an injury that we believe could have been prevented,” Francavilla said.

Eveland’s parents, Diane Luth and stepfather Paul Luth, said they had no idea their son was experiencing headaches. They now devote themselves to caring for him.

Until Breanna Bingen’s deposition in September, there was no mention of Eveland having a health complication.

More than 50 depositions have been taken for the lawsuit — from doctors, paramedics and others connected to the football team or the game. Only Bingen and now Trevor Sattes have spoken about Eveland complaining of headaches, although one player testified that Eveland was acting disoriented during the game.

Until this fall, the family had focused their lawsuit against the maker of Eveland’s helmet and the question of whether Eveland was sent to the hospital in a timely manner. The information from Bingen and Sattes has changed the target dramatically, Francavilla said.

Bingen testified that she was one of several student trainers on the field the night of Eveland’s collapse. She recalled that he twice complained about headaches during the week before the game and sat out parts of two practices. She also remembered overhearing him tell Gommel a few minutes before the game about not being able to see the football because his head was killing him.

Eveland wanted to skip at least the first quarter in hopes that his head would feel better, Bingen testified, but Hauser disagreed and told Gommel, “you’re no doctor.”

Bingen, now a member of the Army National Guard, hasn’t been available for comment.

The person who corroborated her testimony was Sattes, now 21 and a college student studying to become a trainer. Sattes testified that he considered Gommel to be his mentor, and that he met with Gommel for lunch the Monday or Tuesday following Eveland’s collapse.

In a statement signed by Sattes and then confirmed during the deposition, Sattes said: “While eating lunch, I asked Mr. Gommel again what happened with Scotty. He told me he was going to explain what occurred in order to make me a better trainer. ... Mr. Gommel then stated that Scotty told him he did not feel well enough to play the first quarter and that Scotty did not feel like he should play. Mr. Gommel told me that he assessed Scotty’s condition and found him to be a little wobbly and having trouble focusing.

“Mr. Gommel then told me he went to Coach Hauser to discuss Scotty’s condition. ... Mr. Gommel said Coach Hauser made the decision to play Scotty.”

Through school officials, Hauser declined to comment for this story.

During her deposition, Bingen also testified that Principal Brad Lichtman, Gommel and an assistant football coach told her and others to not talk about the case with lawyers or the media. An attorney for the school district said that never happened, and Sattes didn’t address that issue in his deposition.

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