ST. LOUIS (CN) – Southeast Missouri State University trainers rushed a football player back to the gridiron too soon after he was physically assaulted, causing a more serious brain injury, the player and his father claim in Federal Court. Thomas Walls Jr., a wide receiver for SMSU, was repeatedly bludgeoned in the head with the butt end of a gun by an unknown assailant during a school sponsored event on campus on March 30, 2007, the lawsuit claims.
Walls says the trainers knew about and treated his injuries in the days that followed. On April 6, 2007, after Walls complained about severe headaches, trainers cleared Walls to participate in football activities and Walls sustained a blow to the head during football activities the next day, the lawsuit states.
The blow caused Walls to lose consciousness and he was taken to the hospital where he underwent brain surgery, Walls says. The surgery allegedly revealed that Walls suffered a brain injury during the attack and that the injury was made worse by his premature release back to football. Walls had to undergo an additional brain surgery on June 26, 2007, has suffered reduced mental and physical functionality and has not been able to return to football, the suit states.
Walls is seeking damages and his father, Thomas Walls Sr., is seeking more than $75,000 reimbursement for travel expenses he incurred while traveling from the family’s home in New Jersey to Missouri to be with his son. They are represented by Stephen Hoyne. The Board of Regents of Southeast Missouri State University; Alfred Castillo, head trainer for SMSU football; Don Kaverman, SMSU athletic director; Justin Kramer, SMSU director of football operations; Tony Samuel, SMSU head coach; and Terrence Samuel, SMSU wide receivers coach, are named as defendants.