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Former California football player sues university for medical malpractice over head injuries

California's Bernard Hicks (2), playing against USC in 2006 at the Coliseum, says in a lawsuit that he sustained multiple concussions playing for the Golden Bears.

California’s Bernard Hicks (2), playing against USC in 2006 at the Coliseum, says in a lawsuit that he sustained multiple concussions playing for the Golden Bears.

(Los Angeles Times)

A former player for the California football team is suing the university for medical malpractice in relation to concussions he suffered while playing for the Golden Bears, the Daily Californian reports.

Bernard Hicks, who played safety from 2004 to ’08, sustained multiple concussions during games and practices, according to the lawsuit filed Aug. 3 against the regents of the University of California.

Since then, the suit says, Hicks has suffered “permanent and debilitating” neurological injuries that have caused depression, suicidal thoughts, dizziness, memory loss, and blurred and double vision.

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Then-head coach Jeff Tedford, team physician Cindy Chang and head athletic trainer Ryan Cobb have been named as defendants.

The university should have been more proactive in preventing head injuries, the suit claims. Hicks’ attorney, Matthew Whibley, says the school did not live up to its responsibility of educating players on the long-term neurological diseases that are tied to such injuries.

Had Hicks known of those risks, Whibley said, he would have refrained from playing or at least taken more time to recover from head injuries. Hicks played in 32 games for the Golden Bears.

“The university is the players’ caretaker,” Whibley said. “We think it would be fair for them to at least inform the players what they’re getting themselves into.”

Whibley said he has not made contact with Cal athletics, which has yet to comment on the case.

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