California School District Settles Lawsuit Brought by Former Football Player Who Suffered Concussion

The East Nicolaus High School District, north of Sacramento, has settled a lawsuit brought by a former football player, who suffered a concussion after a coach directed 11 of his teammates to tackle him repeatedly as punishment for missing practice.

The settlement, reportedly for $40,000, closed the chapter on allegations made against the district and then-head coach Mark Varnum, which the district originally claimed were “totally unfounded.”

The Sutter County Sheriff’s Department also conducted an investigation, interviewing the player Justin Williams, his mother, the school’s coaches, and players.  But Sheriff J. Paul Parker determined that there “wasn’t a basis for a criminal conduct charge” at the time. Sacramento attorney Noel Ferris represented Williams’ mother, Marcie Mackay.

With the settlement, Williams will reportedly receive approximately $25,000. From the $40,000 settlement total, $8,149.04 is mandated to go to the attorney, $4,656.33 as reimbursement for medical expenses and $2,747.52 to Healthcare Recoveries for medical expenses. Williams cannot access the proceeds until he turns 18 in July 2013.

One factor in the settlement was a neuropsychological evaluation earlier this year, which showed that Williams is experiencing symptoms consistent with concussions, including mild anxiety, and could benefit from accommodations in school, consultation with a speech and language therapist and pharmacological therapy for attention difficulty.

Varnum, who is also a teacher, was placed on paid administrative leave during the course of the investigation.

Matthew Roberts, Athletic Director Darren Brown, and assistant football coaches John Dolenga and Geoff Wahl were also listed in the claim.

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