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Coaches sued after tackling dummy punishment

Alex Green • Feb 5, 2014 at 10:20 AM

Woodmore Local Schools and two of its 2013 football coaches are being sued by the family of a boy who was allegedly used as a tackling dummy, Toledo attorney Charles Boyk said.


Boyk said the 16-year-old he represents is still suffering from a traumatic brain injury that resulted from the coaches’ alleged hazing drills last September.


“He is having difficulty with his cognitive and memory skills,” Boyk said.


The two men being sued are head coach Britton Devier and former assistant coach Todd Bringman.


Bringman resigned last September in the wake of the allegations, while Devier remains employed by the school as both a teacher and a football coach.


“It was the assistant’s drill, but it’s the head coach’s responsibility,” Boyk said.


The boy’s parents are seeking more than $75,000 in damages. 


According to the lawsuit, a group of football players were being punished after they were told to run into their locker room and change into full pads in just eight minutes.


The lawsuit states only six to 10 students out of about 45 on the team returned in time.


For their supposed tardiness, the majority group was duped “Old Woodmore” — a term meant to depict the slow and losing Woodmore teams of the past.


“‘New Woodmore’ kids lined up 10 feet away from ‘Old Woodmore,’” Boyk said. “(Old Woodmore) couldn’t use their hands as the other group charged at them, tackling them and knocking down.”


Boyk’s client was hit exceptionally hard, the lawsuit states, as his neck compacted when it hit the turf. He became visibly disoriented later in practice and was taken to the emergency room under the trainer’s recommendation.


The lawsuit states an ambulance was not called.


The lawsuit also states: “During the drill, several ‘New Woodmore’ players were uncomfortable hitting their defenseless teammates and either did not hit the ‘Old Woodmore’ players as hard as they could or cycled back (to the end of the line).”


Boyk said that at start of practice, players were instructed to wear just part of their uniform because of the extreme heat. But coaches became dissatisfied with their effort, he said, so they tried the human-dummy drill to toughen them up.


“Any football person will tell you, there’s nothing tough about this,” Boyk said.


Investigators from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation could not say whether the boy was hurt during the drill or outside of it.


In October, a grand jury decided not to hand down an indictment in the case. 


Ottawa County prosecutor Mark Mulligan removed himself from the case, given a conflict of interest. His son played on the team.


According to the Buckeye Institute’s website, Devier earned a little less than $50,000 in 2013, while collecting about $8,000 for one of his three listed coaching assignments. He received about $2,700 and $4,600 for two other coaching assignments with the school, according to the website.


Officials at Woodmore Local Schools have declined several phone calls on the matter.

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