Wrestling injury prompts suit seeking $600,000

July 12, 1992|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Staff Writer

An Edgewood High School student and his parents have sued the county and the school's former wrestling coach, contending the defendants are responsible for an injury he received during tryouts for the wrestling team.

Michael King and his parents, Raymond and Dorcas King, are seeking $600,000 in damages in the suit, filed in Harford Circuit Court July 1.

Mr. King suffered "severe, painful and permanent" injuries to his back and limbs in the Nov. 30, 1990 incident, the suit says. He also contends he suffered physical pain and mental anguish as a result of the injuries.

The suit names the county and William Zimmerman as defendants. Mr. Zimmerman is now an industrial arts teacher at Bel Air High School.

The Kings, of the 600 block of Sequoia Avenue in Edgewood, claim that the county and Mr. Zimmerman acted negligently in failing to prevent the would-be wrestler from getting hurt.

Albert Seymour, spokesman for the county school board, noted that Mr. Zimmerman was not a wrestling coach at Edgewood High at the time of the incident involving the student. Mr. Zimmerman was Edgewood's wrestling coach before transferring to Bel Air High School in September 1986.

Michael King, who was a senior during the 1991-1992 school year but did not graduate, is now attending summer school, Mr. Seymour said.

Emory Plitt, Harford's county attorney, said he has not yet reviewed the suit, but questions why the county has been named a defendant because it does not have direct supervision over the school system.

"We'll be looking at it when it comes in," Mr. Plitt said. "But [the plaintiffs] may be barking up the wrong tree."

The Kings and their attorney, David A. Castro of Baltimore, could not be reached.

The King family contends in the suit that the wrestling coach "breached his duty of care" when Michael King wrestled a bigger, more experienced teammate during tryouts for the high school team.

"The defendants were under a duty to provide a reasonably safe environment for the practice of wrestling . . . and consider the limitations of each participant, including the differences between the age, weight and experience of each member of the wrestling team," the suit says.

At the time of the incident, Michael King weighed about 189 pounds, the suit says. The other wrestler, who weighed about 275 pounds, had two years of experience in the sport. The name of the other wrestler is not disclosed in the suit.

Michael King, meanwhile, never participated in any kind of formal wrestling program at school or outside of school before joining the team, the suit says.

The plaintiff says in the suit that the injuries have prevented him from participating in "normal activities, duties and pursuits."

In addition, the Kings have paid for medical treatment from hospitals, physicians and therapists for the would-be wrestler, the suit says.

The suit does not disclose how much money the family spent for the treatment.

The student's parents, meanwhile, contend they lost the affection and services of their son because of the injuries, the suit says.

The Kings are requesting a jury trial in the case.

A hearing date has not been scheduled.

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