Former USC tailback Stafon Johnson filed a lawsuit against USC in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Monday.
Johnson claimed negligence on behalf of former assistant strength coach Jamie Yanchar and the school related to a severe throat injury he sustained during a weightlifting accident in September 2009.
Along with his mother, Kim Mallory, and attorney Carl Douglas, Johnson held a news conference Monday afternoon in Beverly Hills announcing the filing of a personal injury lawsuit against Yanchar and the university. During the gathering, he read from a prepared statement, while Douglas and Mallory answered questions from the media.
Seeking unspecified damages for medical-related expenses, pain and suffering and loss of potential earnings in excess of $25,000, the lawsuit alleges that Yanchar was not paying attention to Johnson at the time of the accident.
“Defendant Yanchar’s negligent, careless and reckless act and omission, in striking the bar with his body, was something that Mr. Johnson was not expecting to occur and he was therefore unprepared for the bar to be knocked off balance,” read the lawsuit.
In the aftermath, Johnson was forced to undergo several surgeries and therapy for injuries stemming from the incident.
On Sept. 28, 2009, Johnson dropped a barrel carrying 275 pounds of weight on himself while bench pressing in USC’s weight room during a mandatory team weight lifting session, causing serious injuries to his throat, and causing him to be hospitalized for approximately three weeks. He missed the remainder of the season.
The lawsuit, however, insists that Johnson did not drop the bar on his throat, as reports initially indicated.
“What we say occurred is that the bar was basically knocked out of his hand, causing it to fall on Stafon’s neck, almost causing him to die,” Douglas told reporters during Monday’s news conference. “We think for that, those that are responsible should be held responsible for their actions.”
Yanchar spent the last season with the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks, working for former USC coach Pete Carroll in a similar capacity. Two weeks after Carroll departed for the Seahawks, Yanchar was hired, leaving his position as interim strength coach.
“USC firmly believes it was not at fault in Stafon Johnson’s unfortunate weightlifting accident,” USC said in a statement released Monday afternoon. “We are sorry that Stafon was injured. USC and the entire Trojan Family have been exceptionally supportive of Stafon from the minute the accident occurred. We are disappointed to learn that Stafon has decided to file a lawsuit against USC.”
To read more about the lawsuit, click here.