Injured wrestler sues Belleville East coaches for 'theatrics'

Steve Gonzalez Dec. 5, 2005, 10:29am

Belleville East High School

A former Belleville East wrestler filed suit against Belleville School District #201 and two wrestling coaches for employing a "theatrical" move that caused him a serious right shoulder injury.

In a suit filed Dec. 1 in St. Clair County Circuit Court, Andrew Smith claims coach Nick Miller, under the direction of head coach Maurice Brown, demonstrated a "lateral" wrestling move used by professional wrestlers.

At the time of the incident, Dec. 6, 2004, Smith was a senior at East and was a first-year member of the wrestling team.

Smith claims in the process of performing a "lateral" move, Miller flipped him. He fell with full force landing on his right shoulder. According to the complaint, Miller finished the move by landing on top of Smith.

"Nick Miller and Maurice Brown are not professional wrestlers nor have they ever been associated with professional wrestlers," the complaint states.

Linda Smith, Andrew's mother, also is seeking damages under the family expense act claiming she is responsible for her son's past medical bills.

The Smiths are represented by Richard Reed of Reed and Bruhn of Belleville. They are seeking damages in excess of $450,000, plus costs of the suit.

Smith claims the school district failed to exercise reasonable care to hire, train and supervise wrestling coaches, failed to use reasonable discretion or judgment in deciding what type of wrestling maneuvers will be used, allowed an untrained and unqualified coach to supervise and instruct the wrestlers and allowed a coach to use a move not customarily used in high school wrestling.

"Belleville School District #201 allowed a professional and theatrical wrestling move to be taught to inexperienced high school wrestlers," the complaint states.

Smith claims the school unreasonably enhanced the risk or incidence of injuries by allowing him to be flipped by the coach.

05 L 696 (20th Circuit)

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