Just spoke to Sacramento-based attorney Roger A. Dreyer, who filed a lawsuit today on behalf of former Pleasant Grove High School and USC football star Armond Armstead charging that USC team doctors repeatedly administered a painkiller that led to him having a heart attack two years ago and derailed his immediate NFL hopes.
Armstead, a defensive lineman, is now playing in the Canadian Football League with hopes of landing an NFL shot. He went undrafted in last spring's draft after he was projected as a high-round pick the previous year. That was before Armstead was administered the shots, the suit claims.
Dryer said, "I guarantee USC will blow it off like it's no big deal, but it is a big deal."
The suit names the university, an unnamed pharmaceutical company, football team physician Dr. James Tibone and the University Park Health Center as defendants. The potential damages could run into the tens of millions of dollars, Dreyer said, based on Armstead's lost value of a lost senior season at USC when the school would not clear him to play.
Dreyer said Armstead's case includes "a 20-year old kid, beyond fit, a world-class athlete, and he has a heart attack because of something USC administered."
Dreyer said parents put faith in college programs to take care of their sons. This case, Dreyer said, is proof of layers of broken trust.
"The parents, when their sons are being recruited, are told, 'trust us, we'll take care of your kid.' In this case, he was given shots not to help him, but to get him back on the field. This suit is about a violation of trust here, a violation of risks. Why are they administering this drug? It's not to take care of him, but to get him on the field."
Dreyer paused and continued.
"Something bad happened here, and it gives a voice to a lot of kids who I think will come out of the woodwork across the country for misuse," he said. "It's about accountability. I am sure some coaches and some teams don't do this with team doctors, but we've all have heard plenty of stories of lip service otherwise."
USC officials did not immediately respond for comment. The Armstead family has been advised not to talk about the suit.
- Joe Davidson
On Twitter: @SacBee_JoeD
On e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org