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& Holtz v. Maura
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& Holtz

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Larkins OAH Hearing
Assistant trainer says there
were warning signs before
football player's brain injury

By J. Harry Jones

Sunday, December 26,
2010 at 6 a.m.
Scotty Eveland sits in his
wheelchair at home during
the holiday season.

Charlie Neuman

Scotty Eveland sits in his
wheelchair at home during
the holiday season.

In September 2007, Mission
Hills High School senior
Scotty Eveland collapsed
during a school football
game. The massive brain
injury that he suffered has
left him in a mostly
vegetative state ever since.

The San Marcos Unified
School District has
maintained there were no
indications that Scotty had
any health problems before
the incident. Now a former
student has come forward
with testimony that, if true,
strongly suggests the
district may be involved in a
cover-up that could costs it
millions of dollars in an
ongoing lawsuit.

Court documents show a
deposition in which Breanna
Bingen said twice in the
week before Scotty
collapsed, he had
complained to athletic
trainer Scott Gommel about
headaches and skipped
parts of two practices.

Bingen also testified that
minutes before the game
began, Scotty went to
Gommel and asked to sit
out for at least the first
quarter because his head
was killing him. Scotty
allegedly said he couldn’t
see the football.

Bingen, who identified
herself as an assistant
student trainer at the time,
then recalled seeing
Gommel talk to Coach Chris
Hauser and hearing Hauser

“He said that Scotty was his
(expletive) football player
and that if he wanted to put
Scotty in the game, he was
going to damn well put him
in the game. ... You’re not
an “expletive” doctor,”
Bingen, now a 21-year-old
military police officer with
the Army National Guard,
remembered hearing.

Scotty, a 190-pound
linebacker, started in the
game and collapsed about
45 minutes later.

An attorney for the school
district said last week that
Gommel and Hauser denied
ever having such a
conversation or knowing
that Scotty had a health

“I’m not saying (Bingen) is
lying and I’m not saying she’
s not lying,” said the lawyer,
Gil Abed. “I’m saying there’s
a lot to be questioned here.”

Bingen, Hauser and
Gommel couldn’t be
reached for comment last

Abed said about 50
depositions have been
taken during the litigation
process and that Bingen is
the sole person to suggest
that Scotty was suffering

“Other student trainers don’
t even remember her being
on the field,” Abed added.

An attorney for Scotty’s
family said others have
confirmed Bingen was
working the game that night,
and that at least one other
assistant trainer testified
about hearing that Scotty
was having headaches
earlier in the week.

Near the end of her
deposition, Bingen was
asked if any Mission Hills
personnel instructed her
and others associated with
the football program to
avoid discussing the Scotty
Eveland case.

Bingen said Gommel, an
assistant coach and the
school’s principal, Brad
Lichtman, “told us not to talk
to any reporters or any

Abed said Lichtman and the
others deny issuing such

The lawsuit that Scotty’s
family filed against several
parties, now boiled down to
the district and a helmet
manufacturer, has entered
its third year.

In her deposition, Bingen
said she waited a long time
to come forward because
she didn’t know that a
lawsuit had been filed,
because she was told not to
talk about the incident and
because she didn’t realize
the importance of what she

Scotty’s mother, Diane
Luth, and stepfather, Paul
Luth, said they had heard
rumors early on about
their son having health
problems before the game.

“We tried to get more
information, but
everybody pretty much
shut down and we come
to find out that they were
told not say anything,”
Diane Luth said. “This is
all new to us. ... It’s

Paul Luth added: “If we had
known he was having
trouble, we would have
taken him to a hospital to
have him looked at. We
wouldn’t have put him into a
football game.”

According to court
documents dated Dec. 9, a
Vista Superior Court judge
has allowed lawyers to
redepose Gommel for one
hour so they can ask him
about Bingen’s testimony.

During his initial deposition
a month earlier, Gommel
said there was no indication
of Scotty being ill.

Hauser has not been

A hearing requested by the
school district to have the
lawsuit dismissed has been
delayed until April.
San Marcos Unified School District
2nd witness says Scotty Eveland complained of
headaches before collapse
By J. Harry Jones
January 15, 2011

[Maura Larkins note:

Kids are taught to do what coaches and teachers want without question.  Why?  
Because it's easier that way--for the adults.  I think we'd have a better-educated
population if adults were willing to subject at least some of their decisions to a
critical-thinking process.  Sometimes adults are wrong, and there is no need for
them to be ashamed of this fact.  It's inevitable that adults will make mistakes.  

What they should be ashamed of is covering up their mistakes and lying about
them.  Of course school employees are told to keep quiet.  Also, school attorneys
instruct witnesses not to answer questions during depositions.  I wonder how many
times this happened during the 50 depositions in this case?  It would be a lot easier
for the courts to administer justice if lawyers instructed their clients to tell the truth.

Why didn't the school investigate this horrible tragedy on the football field?  The
school is paid by taxpayers to help students, not hurt them.  The school should not
have let a week pass without interviewing the student trainers and adults involved in
this incident.  And then the school should have done the right thing by making
reparation for damage done to a student, rather than forcing the student's family to
struggle for years trying to find the truth.

But schools don't seem to want to hear the truth.  
Here's what happened to coach
James Ted Carter when he reported that a coach had told a student to take a
substance that landed the kid in the hospital. ]

SAN MARCOS — A former student trainer has testified that a few days after Mission
Hills High football player Scotty Eveland collapsed during a game in 2007, the school’
s lead trainer confided that Eveland had asked to sit out because he was suffering
from headaches and disorientation but was called in anyway by the head coach.

The account, given during a deposition completed Wednesday, corroborates
testimony from another former student trainer who was deposed in October.

The San Marcos Unified School District has maintained that Eveland showed no
sign of medical problems before the collapse. Scott Gommel, the lead trainer, said
the same during his deposition four months ago. A judge has agreed to let lawyers
for Eveland’s family redepose Gommel because of the new information.

Eveland has remained in a mostly vegetative state since his collapse. Doctors think
he will need constant medical care that could cost millions of dollars over his lifetime.

Testimony from the two former student trainers is part of evidence collection in an
ongoing lawsuit filed by Eveland’s family against the school district.

San Marcos Unified is confident it will “absolutely be vindicated” at trial, said Daniel
Shinoff, a lawyer for the district. He also urged that facts be decided in a court of law
and not in the court of public opinion.

Shinoff said it’s a complicated case “in terms of people’s perceptions, people’s
recollection, and there’s a large passage of time.”

On Thursday, school officials denied a request to interview Gommel and the head
football coach, Chris Hauser, who has not been deposed.

Robert Francavilla, an attorney for Eveland’s family, said the latest deposition
confirms what really happened.

“Scotty lives every day with an injury that we believe could have been prevented,”
Francavilla said.

Eveland’s parents, Diane Luth and stepfather Paul Luth, said they had no idea their
son was experiencing headaches. They now devote themselves to caring for him.

Until Breanna Bingen’s deposition in September, there was no mention of Eveland
having a health complication.

More than 50 depositions have been taken for the lawsuit — from doctors,
paramedics and others connected to the football team or the game. Only Bingen
and now Trevor Sattes have spoken about Eveland complaining of headaches,
although one player testified that Eveland was acting disoriented during the game.

Until this fall, the family had focused their lawsuit against the maker of Eveland’s
helmet and the question of whether Eveland was sent to the hospital in a timely
manner. The information from Bingen and Sattes has changed the target
dramatically, Francavilla said.

Bingen testified that she was one of several student trainers on the field the night of
Eveland’s collapse. She recalled that he twice complained about headaches during
the week before the game and sat out parts of two practices. She also remembered
overhearing him tell Gommel a few minutes before the game about not being able to
see the football because his head was killing him.

Eveland wanted to skip at least the first quarter in hopes that his head would feel
better, Bingen testified, but Hauser disagreed and told Gommel, “you’re no doctor.”

Bingen, now a member of the Army National Guard, hasn’t been available for

The person who corroborated her testimony was Sattes, now 21 and a college
student studying to become a trainer. Sattes testified that he considered Gommel to
be his mentor, and that he met with Gommel for lunch the Monday or Tuesday
following Eveland’s collapse.

In a statement signed by Sattes and then confirmed during the deposition, Sattes
said: “While eating lunch, I asked Mr. Gommel again what happened with Scotty. He
told me he was going to explain what occurred in order to make me a better trainer.
... Mr. Gommel then stated that Scotty told him he did not feel well enough to play
the first quarter and that Scotty did not feel like he should play. Mr. Gommel told me
that he assessed Scotty’s condition and found him to be a little wobbly and having
trouble focusing.

“Mr. Gommel then told me he went to Coach Hauser to discuss Scotty’s condition. ...
Mr. Gommel said Coach Hauser made the decision to play Scotty.”

Through school officials, Hauser declined to comment for this story.

During her deposition, Bingen also testified that Principal Brad Lichtman, Gommel
and an assistant football coach told her and others to not talk about the case with
lawyers or the media. An attorney for the school district said that never happened,
and Sattes didn’t address that issue in his deposition.
Scotty’s mother, Diane
Luth, and stepfather,
Paul Luth, said they had
heard rumors early on
about their son having
health problems before
the game.

“We tried to get more
information, but
everybody pretty much
shut down and we come
to find out that they were
told not say anything,”
Diane Luth said. “This is
all new to us. ... It’s
See Ed Brand, former
Related case: what
happens when a coach
tries to protect a student's
health?  See
James Ted Carter
Nothing on replay of Eveland's injury
By Kevin Gemmell
September 20, 2007

...Eveland, 17, was removed from the game by coaches Friday night after he
appeared dazed. He was told to lie down on the sideline, where paramedics attended
to him.

“The game stopped and we started counting numbers,” Luth said. “By the third count
I told my wife, 'I think it's Scotty.' ”

Paul and Diane Luth went down to the sideline, where they found Eveland

“I took his pulse and it was erratic,” Paul recalled. “He was going into convulsions. At
first I thought he was trying to hug me.”

Diane rode to the hospital with Scott while a friend drove the stepfather.

Community support

A fund to help support Scott Eveland and his family has been set up at Discovery
Bank, 338 Via Vera Cruz, San Marcos, CA 92018. Contact Sheree Keller, vice
president, at (760) 736-8900 or go to and follow the
prompts to make donations. Checks can be sent directly to the bank in the name of
Scott Eveland.

Palomar College Fire Academy and the local Pop Warner Association will be hosting
a car wash from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Mission Hills High student parking

Several schools, including Vista and Carlsbad, will be collecting donations at
tomorrow's football games.

Friends Yogurt and Noodles & Company will donate proceeds from sales to the
family fund.
“I just thought he got knocked out. It's football. It happens,” said Paul, Scott's
stepfather of 11 years. “I figured I'd get there and he'd have a huge ice bag on his
head. I couldn't wait to ask him what happened.”

But when Paul arrived, Diane told her husband that Scott was in a coma and was
undergoing emergency surgery for what the stepfather said doctors described as
massive brain damage.

Mission Hills head coach Chris Hauser and Principal Brad Lichtman said they
reviewed a video recording of Friday's game against West Hills and watched every
play involving Eveland, a 5-foot-11 190-pound linebacker, leading up to his collapse
early in the second quarter. Lichtman said nothing suggested Eveland had suffered
a catastrophic injury and he had no contact on the final play before being removed
from the game.

“Scott appears to be in good shape throughout the first quarter,” Lichtman said. “He
appears to respond normally. There may be, and this is an interpretation, there may
be a hesitation in his first step as he gets ready for the final play. We have yet to find
evidence of a previous contact or incident that would cause something of this nature.”

Luth said Eveland hadn't displayed any unusual symptoms to suggest he wasn't
feeling well in the days prior to the game, that he was a vocal boy and would have
spoken up. He said Eveland looked fine before the game.

“We saw him on the sideline and he gave us a thumbs-up. He waved to us,” Luth
said. “It was just like any normal Friday. It's the last normal day we've had.”

The outpouring of affection since the injury occurred, Luth said, has been amazing.
Families, schools and complete strangers have sent cards, flowers, posters and
good wishes. Friends of the family have cooked dinners for the Luths and their other
three sons.

“We have never felt so loved,” Luth said. “It's overwhelming at times. If any good has
come from this, it's the love that is out there for Scotty and our family.”

Described by one of his teammates as the “center of the senior class,” Eveland is
well-regarded by his peers. He has a strong interest in world affairs and Luth said his
stepson often chatted politics with Hauser.

“He's the one that wants to get practice going,” Hauser said. “In the offseason, he's
the one that's in the weight room first, ready to get the workout going. He's got a
wonderful disposition. It gives us tremendous strength to battle for Scotty because
we know he's battling.”
Blue Cross refuses to
pay for hospital care
for Scotty Everland

Injured Player's
Request To Stay
At Hospital Denied
10 News
January 9, 2008

Blue Cross has denied
a North County
family's public plea to
continue paying for
their son's care at
Palomar Medical
Center in Escondido, it
was reported

Earlier this week, the
family of Mission Hills
High student Scott
Eveland had
petitioned Blue Cross
to reconsider its
decision to pay only if
the 18-year-old was
moved to a less
expensive long-term
nursing home.

Eveland has been
treated for a brain
injury suffered during
a football game in
September and is in
stable condition now
but receives about
three hours a day of
rehabilitation. He was
in a coma for about a
month and has been
cared for at Palomar
since the accident

Eveland's mother,
Diane Luth, and one
of his doctors at
Palomar told reporters
that they feared he'd
receive only half the
amount of
rehabilitation care at a
lesser care center.

Luth now says she will
petition the state to
override Blue Cross'
decision, The San
Diego Union-Tribune

Eveland was originally
supposed to be
moved this week but
the company agreed
to continuing paying
for his care at Palomar
until the appeals
process was

It is not known whether
the company will
continue to pay for
Palomar while the
state's petition
process is conducted.
San Diego
Education Report
Blog posts re
Coach James Ted Carter
Shinoff cases
Scotty Eveland v. San