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Football star sues school district
Also named in the lawsuit are the Sequim Chiropractic Clinic, its owner and operator Robert D. Bean and his wife.
The lawsuit was filed Jan. 13 in Clallam County Superior Court by a Seattle law firm. It seeks unspecified damages including past and future mental and physical pain and suffering, loss of the ability to enjoy life, disability and disfigurement.
It also seeks past and future medical expenses, compensation for loss of earnings and impairment of earning capacity.
Contacted on Tuesday, Bean said he just had sent the lawsuit documents to his malpractice attorney and shouldn't comment until he hears back from the lawyer.
Sequim School District Superintendent Bill Bentley said it would not be appropriate for him to comment.
Collapsed in coma
Gault, who turns 21 on Jan. 29, was a Sequim High School senior when he collapsed into a coma Oct. 20, 2006, while on the sidelines during a football game against North Mason High School.
He was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle for brain surgery that included removing a portion of his skull to relieve swelling of his brain.
The lawsuit says the school district was "specifically aware" of Gault's history of numerous concussions because, except for one received playing baseball, they all were sustained while playing football for the district.
During a Sept. 8, 2006, football game, Gault suffered a concussion so severe he was carried off the field on a stretcher and taken to a hospital for a CT scan, according to the lawsuit.
Sent to chiropractor
Then the school district sent Gault to Bean, a chiropractor, the suit says.
It alleges the district sent Gault to Bean because he would provide the medical authorization for Gault, a star player, to resume playing despite Gault's lacking specialized training and knowledge to do so.
It also states the district ignored the accepted standard protocol for making return-to-play decisions that includes observation to see if concussion symptoms return.
Gault continued to suffer post-concussion symptoms after visiting Bean yet the district allowed him to suit up for football practices, according to the lawsuit.
The district withheld Gault from tackling, blocking and other contact during practice to save his contact for actual football games, the lawsuit states.
It also alleges the district failed to alert Gault's parents and request he be examined, "instead allowing a teenager to decide whether he should return to play."
During the Oct. 20 game, Gault complained of a headache during the second quarter and was taken out of the game but not referred for a medical exam, the lawsuit states.
It alleges that despite Gault's "obvious circumstances and special needs," the district failed to provide special education screening, assistance or tutorial programs.
Instead, the district pass-ed him along in his classes "without competitive scoring and grading" to graduate him and remove him from the category where special education assistance would be required by law, the lawsuit states.
Gault continues to have neurological and brain-
injury deficits, weakness on one side of his body, impaired vision, emotional and behavioral difficulties plus cognitive, memory, attention and education deficits, it states.
Reach Brian Gawley at firstname.lastname@example.org.