By AMANDA LEE MYERS
CINCINNATI — The parents of a 16-year-old northwest Ohio boy have filed a federal civil rights lawsuit claiming he suffered a traumatic brain injury during a coach-sanctioned hazing drill.
Daniel and Amy Sprinski Jr., of Elmore, filed the lawsuit Monday in federal court in Toledo against Woodmore Local Schools, head coach Britton Devier and former assistant coach Todd Bringman.
Devier and district Superintendent Linda Bringman, who is Todd Bringman’s sister-in-law, did not immediately return messages seeking comment. Todd Bringman, who resigned from his position following the player’s injury, has an unlisted number.
The Fremont News-Messenger has reported that Devier is one of a number of finalists Fremont Ross has interviewed to replace Derek Kidwell as the school’s head football coach.
The lawsuit said Todd Bringman directed a Sept. 10 hazing drill in which one group of football players had to hit teammates as hard as they could as punishment for a perceived lack of hustle, with the second group being ordered not to protect themselves or hit back. The Sprinskis’ son, whose name was not released, “was hit exceptionally hard and driven to the ground,” with the back of his head hitting packed dirt, according to the lawsuit.
Soon after, the teen began acting confused and disoriented, then vomited and eventually collapsed — all well-known concussion symptoms, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit says that the coaches told two other players to help the boy to the locker room, where an athletic trainer saw him.
The lawsuit says that no one called an ambulance and that the boy’s older brother had to help the “unresponsive” teen to his car before driving him home. Once there, the boy’s parents immediately took him to a hospital, after which he was diagnosed with a concussion and other injuries, the lawsuit said.
The teen now has learning and memory problems, is experiencing depression and anxiety, can no longer play football or other sports, still has to get regular treatment for his injuries and was forced to transfer schools because students were giving him a hard time, said Chuck Boyk, the Toledo attorney representing the Sprinskis.
“Defendants’ conduct was so extreme and outrageous as to go beyond all possible bounds of decency and was such that it can be considered as utterly intolerable in a civilized community,” Boyk wrote in the lawsuit.
The coaches “basically used the teammates to assault” the teen, Boyk told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
An Ottawa County grand jury declined to file criminal charges against the coaches following two days of testimony from 49 witnesses and investigations by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and the state’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation.
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