OAKLAND, Calif. — The family of Ted Agu, a Cal player who died after a training run with teammates in February, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Regents of the University of California on Tuesday in California Superior Court.
The lawsuit alleges “reckless and negligent behavior” by Cal football trainers and coaches for “subjecting Agu to a lethal conditioning drill for a player with known sickle cell trait.”
It also contends the university was negligent in hiring associate athletic trainer Robert Jackson, who previously worked as a trainer at Central Florida and was the sole certified athletic trainer present when former UCF football player Ereck Plancher died after a training session in 2008. Like Agu, Plancher had sickle cell trait. The suit says Jackson was the most experienced trainer present when Agu died.
Agu, 21, was on a supervised run with teammates near Memorial Stadium on Feb. 7 and struggled to finish. According to Cal team physician Casey Batten, members of the training staff recognized Agu was struggling, pulled him out of the run and transferred him by cart to the team’s medical facility inside the stadium.
“He was on the back of the cart, he was talking, he was hydrating, he did not exhibit any labored breathing or other signs until he got to the north tunnel,” Batten said in February.
Agu collapsed around 7 a.m. CPR was administered, and he was taken to Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead, according to Batten.
Lawyers for the Agu family stood on the steps outside the Alameda County courthouse Tuesday and told a different story.
“That story [that it was an ordinary training run] is totally erroneous and factually flawed,” said C. Steven Yerrid, a lawyer for the Agu family who also represented Plancher’s family in a similar suit against the UCF Athletics Association. Yerrid said Agu’s family reached out to him after learning of the Plancher case. “It wasn’t an ordinary workout. It was an extraordinary workout that they’d never done before.”