Lawsuit filed against Woodmore schools after football injury - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

Lawsuit filed against Woodmore schools after football injury

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Toledo, OH - We have a follow-up to last fall's Woodmore High School football investigation.

Criminal charges were never filed, however, the parents of a 16-year-old student from Elmore filed a civil lawsuit on Monday in U.S. District Court against the Woodmore Local School District, the head coach of the high school football team, and a former assistant coach.

In the lawsuit, Daniel and Amy Sprinski say their son suffered a severe brain injury last September during what they call a hazing drill at football practice.  Their lawyer says since his concussion and brain injury, he's moved to a different school district and is now no longer able to participate in contact sports.

"He has memory issues, he has difficulty behaving in school," says Charles Boyk, the Sprinski family's attorney. "He was forced, because of the bullying and the hazing, to leave the school district."

The defendants listed in the case are Woodmore Local Schools, head coach Britton Devier, and former assistant coach Todd Bringman.

Mr. and Mrs. Sprinski say on September 10, 2013, the 16-year-old football player, who was a Woodmore High School sophomore at the time of the incident, was one in a group of players punished for lack of hustle and forced to participate in what's called the "Bull in the Ring" drill.

In the lawsuit, Mr. and Mrs. Sprinski say their son wasn't allowed to protect himself as other players were allegedly allowed to hit him with such force that he vomited, started acting confused and disoriented as practice continued, and eventually collapsed on the sideline.

"This was drill where our client specifically was instructed repeatedly not to defend himself," says Boyk. "He was assaulted by the teammates. We don't really blame the teammates. The teammates were ordered by the football coaches to do this."

When his brother drove him home unresponsive, Mr. and Mrs. Sprinski took the 16-year-old to the hospital where they say he spent the night in the Intensive Care Unit.

Now the family is suing for more than $75,000 saying the drill was too dangerous.

The boy's father Daniel Sprinski, Jr., tells 13abc over the phone, "Now it's our time to make sure we get it right for our son and he gets to mend and he gets to where he was before this injury happened."

The lawsuit states, "The conduct of Defendants Devier and Bringman was outrageous and evidences a complete disregard for the safety of the children under their care, custody and control." 

The Sprinski family alleges the district ratified use of excessive force and hazing by the football coaches, "as evidenced by, at minimum, its failure to discipline and/or dismiss Defendant Devier from his employment with Woodmore." They're also alleging negligent hiring, supervision, and training.

The family's attorney Charles Boyk says the purpose of the lawsuit is to stress the importance of protecting child athletes, especially since their bodies and brains are still developing.

"Children are our most precious asset," says Boyk. "The vast majority of coaches run drills to improve a child's athletic ability, but for those few coaches that don't, the results can be devastating. Don't let the same senseless injuries as this one happen to your child on the field.  Communicate with your child and communicate with their coaches. It could save your child's season, but more importantly their life."

Back in September, in the aftermath of that practice and student injury, assistant football coach Todd Bringman resigned.

Then in October, after an investigation by the Ohio Attorney General's Office, an Ottawa County Grand Jury decided not to issue any indictments in the incident.  The Grand Jury made the decision after hearing testimony from 49 witnesses over a two day period.  After the investigation and Grand Jury "no bill", the prosecutor did not file criminal charges in the case.

On Monday, the Superintendent of Woodmore Local Schools Linda Bringman has not returned our calls and e-mail for comment about the civil lawsuit.

Woodmore School Board President Steve Huss has not returned our e-mail for comment.

When reached over the phone on Monday afternoon at work, Devier said, "No comment."

We have been unable to reach Bringman.

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