The parents of a Hoover Middle School student filed a lawsuit last month against the Merced City School District after their son's leg was severely broken by an assistant wrestling coach during practice.
Jason Cupit, the teenager's father, said an assistant coach broke the 14-year-old's leg while demonstrating a wrestling move on the student, according to court records.
Cupit charged the district with gross negligence, reckless conduct and a breach of duty and is holding the district liable for his son's injuries, expenses and for time lost in the classroom that may have an impact the his future.
Cupit's son participated in the school's wrestling program in January under the direction of coaches Omar Hannify and Karad Hannify, said court records.
The two coaches hired David Webster as an assistant coach.
On Jan. 29, Webster tried to demonstrate a leg wrap to take down an opponent on a student and ended fracturing the boy's leg.
Greg Spicer, associate superintendent, said that during Webster's demonstration he tripped and fell hard on Cupit's leg.
The assistant coach weighed 170 pounds and the student weighed 130 pounds, said the complaint. Cupit's son was a wrestling novice and Webster was more experienced.
"It's just one of those unintended things," Spicer said. "(The student) is recovering. It was a bad break and required a lot of medical attention."
The student was out of school for some time, Spicer said, but was able to graduate from eighth grade.
Webster was hired as a "walk-on" coach, or a coach who is not already employed by the school in a teaching capacity.
Some teachers may not feel comfortable teaching certain sports to students, so the district will look to people in the community who may have years of experience with the sport who are called "walk-on coaches."
Wrestling is not a popular sport for teachers to coach, Spicer added. It's a contact sport and it's more injury prone.
Some sports are inherently more dangerous, Spicer added.
More than a decade ago, the school district used to teach gymnastics, but because there were too many injuries on different equipment the district stopped.
Currently, the family is seeking damages to cover their son's injuries and other costs related to the accident, such as gas money for transporting their son to doctor's appointments.
The family also wants compensation for future problems that could arise because of their child's absence from school.
No specific dollar amount was assigned to the student's injuries at the time the family filed the complaint because Cupit was still in the process of calculating an amount, court documents said.
The Sun-Star was unable to reach Jason Cupit or the family's San Francisco-based lawyers David Baum and Martin Blake.
Reporter Jamie Oppenheim can be reached at (209) 385-2407 firstname.lastname@example.org.