A former UCLA football player is suing the University of California Board of Regents and ex-UCLA coach Jim Mora for career-ending injuries the player says he sustained while on the team that bother him to this day.
Former offensive lineman Kenny Lacy, who played for the Bruins in 2013-17, is the fourth former Bruin to file such a suit this year.
Similar complaints were filed in May by former UCLA players Zachary Bateman, John Lopez and Poasi Moala. Bateman was an offensive tackle for UCLA in 2015-17; Lopez played offensive tackle in 2013-16; and Moala played offensive tackle, tight end, fullback and guard in 2013-16.
Lacy’s lawsuit was filed Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court. He is seeking unspecified damages, alleging negligence and negligent infliction of emotional distress. Also named in the suit is Bruins head trainer Anthony Venute.
A UCLA representative could not be immediately reached for comment on Lacy’s complaint, but previously issued a statement regarding the earlier suits.
“While we cannot comment on the specific details of a pending lawsuit, we want to make it clear that the health and safety of our student-athletes is UCLA’s top priority,” the statement read. “We strongly deny and will defend ourselves against the allegations made in the lawsuit. We handle every injury with the highest standard of care. Our team physicians and sports medicine staff work hand-in-hand on diagnosis, monitoring and treatment, and they are the only individuals who determine when a student-athlete is cleared to participate in their sport; coaches are not involved in these decisions.”
According to the Lacy suit, he played left tackle and left guard.
“Throughout his time playing high school football, Kenny stayed 100% injury-free and such was his state when he enthusiastically entered UCLA as a freshman, ready to conquer the world,” the suit says. “Tragically, however, Kenny and his family could never had guessed that his positive outlook and clean bill of health would soon be stripped away, through the institutionalized physical and mental abuse he was about to suffer in the UCLA football program.”
Lacy developed right hip pain, but was discouraged from complaining about his discomfort, the suit alleges.
“In fact, Coach Mora had made it clear that injured players were not welcome on his team or even in the locker room,” the suit states.
Mora’s unwritten policy was that injured players were “excused from all team meetings, practices and other team gatherings, effectively alienating them from their teammates as a punishment for being hurt,” according to the complaint.
Venute regarded Lacy’s pain as “routine tightness” even though it later had spread to his right knee and ankle, the suit states.
Lacy’s injuries forced him to sit out the 2017 season and he had surgery that fall. He continues to rehabilitate, according to his court papers.
“It is not, however, just the loss of his potential NFL career that he has suffered,” the suit states. “As a result of the reckless and callous disregard of Coach Mora, Mr. Venute and their staff members, Kenny must also now endure crippling pain in both hips and knees for the remainder of his life. He is, thus, limited in performing everyday tasks, like putting on his socks, without suffering excruciating pain.”
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