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Expert Alleges Coaching Mistakes Caused USC Football Star's Weighlifting Injury, School Wants Suit Dismissed

Stafon Johnson (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
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New court papers filed in the case against University of Southern California's athletic program include an expert's allegations that coaching mistakes caused football player Stafon Johnson's 2009 on-campus weightlifting accident, reports City News Service.Johnson, now 23, filed suit in January 2011, seeking legal action for a horrible weightlifting accident in which a 275-lb bar fell on his neck, crushing his voice box. Former USC assistant strength and conditioning coach Jamie Yanchar is named in the suit; Yanchar had been in charge of "spotting" the young athlete during his lifting routine.

The expert is Greg Shepard, who "holds a doctorate in exercise physiology, is a former competitive weight lifter and has held strength coach positions at various universities as well as for the Utah Jazz." Shepard has submitted a 25-page sworn statement on the case, in which he asserts his belief Yanchar "engaged in various acts or omissions ... that constitute an extreme departure from the actions that one would ordinarily expect from any person who is spotting a weight lifter.''

Johnson's case also alleges Yanchar was distracted while spotting, including yelling at other athletes in the room while Johnson was bringing the bar down.

Attorneys for USC, however, are seeking a dismissal. They claim Johnson "assumed the risk of injury when he engaged in weightlifting." Did Johnson understand the liability release USC had him signed? Said Johnson: "All I know is if you don't sign it, you won't play.''

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A hearing on USC's dismissal motion is expected to take place January 18.