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Ex-Wave Cager Sues University

May 09, 1985

Reid Poole, a former reserve basketball center for Pepperdine University, is suing the school, claiming that athletic department officials reneged on a promise to continue paying medical bills for back injuries he incurred while a Pepperdine player.

In a complaint for damages filed in Santa Monica Superior Court, Poole, a former Crescenta Valley High School star who played his freshman year at Cal before transfering to Pepperdine, alleges that he first hurt his back in a preseason scrimmage at Pepperdine in October, 1983.

The complaint, filed by Ventura attorneys William M. Slaughter and Barbara A. Lane, said that Poole "sustained serious back injuries" in that scrimmage in which " 'low-bridging' and other instances of aggressive physical contact were being practiced." It said that Poole was instructed to continue practicing and was later hospitalized for five days because he aggravated his injuries in practice.

The complaint claims that two months after his hospitalization, Poole was asked to come back to practice and play and that in January, 1984, his back problem was further aggravated in a practice. The complaint said that this time the injuries were "seriously reaggravated as the result of further negligent coaching and supervising of a regularly scheduled practice session when a teammate 'clipped' him."

Possible Disc Surgery

According to the suit, Pepperdine officials told Poole that the school would "pay for all of his medical expenses as needed and as long as medical treatment was required to treat his injuries and restore his physical condition." But on April 9, though Poole told university officials he needed possible "disc or fusion surgery," the officials said that "no further medical bills would be 'authorized' except through Pepperdine's attorneys," the complaint said.

A spokesman for Pepperdine referred a request for comment on the suit to Wayne Wright, the athletic director. Wright said he could not discuss pending litigation and asked a Times reporter to call Gary A. Hanson, Pepperdine general counsel. Hanson could not be reached.

Poole is seeking general damages, payment for medical and incidental expenses, judgment against Pepperdine for loss of earnings or future loss of earnings and payment for the costs of the suit and any other relief that the court deems just and proper.

The complaint said that as a direct result of Pepperdine's negligence in running its basketball program, Poole "suffered severe and serious personal injuries, resulting in constant pain and suffering, depriving (him) of a professional basketball career, preventing him from enjoying other activities and seriously interfering with his ability to work and earn a livelihood."

Slaughter, one of Poole's attorneys, said Poole has graduated from Pepperdine with a degree in psychology, lives in Malibu and has a part-time job in the office of a Ventura machine shop owned by his brother, Joe.

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