Neurological testing in Calif. takes hit with large award

November 08, 1992|By Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES -- In what an attorney called a rebuke of California's neurological testing program for pro boxers, a Los Angeles Superior Court jury awarded boxer Dio Colome $1,235,500 in damages Friday.

The jury indicated that the money compensated Colome, of the Dominican Republic, for what it ruled were improper procedures when Colome failed the state-required neurological test in 1988.

Colome, 27, claimed in his $25-million suit against the state that his test was improperly administered, that he should not have been required to take it on Feb. 2, 1988, and that the test itself is educationally and culturally biased.

Colome, who testified that he has only a second-grade education, failed the test several days before he was to box in the semifinals of a Forum tournament, where he stood to win $100,000.

Instead, Colome was denied a license and not permitted to box. He was told of the test result, he said, the day he was to box. Later that day, he punched a door in anger, breaking his right hand.

Several boxing experts testified that Colome would have won the tournament; subsequently he would have earned larger purses.

Friday's verdict was delivered after the six-man, six-woman jury had deliberated six days and ended a 35-day trial during which 23 witnesses testified.

Michael Hughes, deputy attorney general who represented the state, said the state would appeal. So did attorney Richard Hall, who represented five defendants including Kimberly Kelly, a UCLA neurologist who was assigned to administer the test to Colome, and Armando Morales, a UCLA professor of social work.

Kelly was to have given the test to Colome, but instead assigned Morales, who speaks Spanish, to administer the mental status ++ portion of the test to Colome.

Carl Douglas, Colome's lawyer, made much of the fact that Morales is neither a physician nor a neurologist.

State law requires the test to be administered by "a licensed physician and surgeon who specializes in neurology or neurosurgery."

"Obviously, the fact that Morales didn't have the right initials after his name hurt us," Hall said.

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