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Pete Carroll's testimony is sought in lawsuit naming ex-assistant

The suit against USC and former assistant Dave Watson arises from a 2008 traffic accident.

January 12, 2010|By Lance Pugmire

Former USC coach Pete Carroll is headed to Seattle, but he has legal business to resolve in Southern California.

While on campus Monday, Carroll was reportedly served a subpoena compelling him to appear for a deposition in connection with a civil lawsuit against USC and former assistant football coach Dave Watson stemming from a car accident in May 2008.

Attorney Ira M. Fierberg, who is representing a man allegedly injured in the crash, said in an e-mail that the subpoena was delivered just after 3 p.m., about the time Carroll was holding a news conference.

Carroll did not return a phone message seeking comment.

The Times reported four months after the accident that Watson had been arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence in the aftermath of the crash, and that he had been dependent on prescription painkillers.

Watson later pleaded no contest to a DUI charge and received three years' probation. He was fired by Carroll after the 2008 season.

Watson told The Times that he informed Carroll of his addiction after the accident and Carroll was supportive, encouraging him to seek help.

However, SI.com reported Monday that Watson testified in a deposition he told Carroll of his addiction three months before the accident. The story also said Watson had been prescribed more than 1,600 pain pills by USC medical staff in the months before the crash. Police at the scene reported that Watson's vehicle contained drugs prescribed by Francis Te, a physician of internal medicine at USC.

Watson was reportedly driving a USC vehicle when he rear-ended a vehicle driven by Alaric Valentin, who is seeking damages of more than $1 million from Watson and USC.

Watson's attorney, Bruce Schechter, told The Times on Monday that the number of pills reportedly prescribed to Watson was "terribly inaccurate" and "over-inflated."

Te and Dr. James Tibone,

head physician for USC's football team, did not return telephone messages.

USC spokesman James Grant declined comment in an e-mail, citing "health care confidentiality laws."

Schechter said he didn't know which doctors prescribed painkillers to Watson but that his client "took the instructed levels of medication he was prescribed." SI.com reported Watson received more than 3,900 Soma pills between March 2005 and May 2008.

A Jan. 26 court hearing is scheduled to determine when or if Carroll will be deposed, and a jury trial is scheduled for late July.

Carroll is also facing a deposition in a civil lawsuit against former USC star Reggie Bush. An appellate court ruling last month opened the door for Carroll to be questioned about whether Bush received cash and gifts from would-be marketers while playing for the Trojans.

Lloyd Lake, one of the marketers, claims in the lawsuit that he and a partner tried to woo Bush as a client, allegedly by providing cash and a home where the running back's family lived rent free.

Brian Watkins, Lake's attorney, said Monday that with Carroll leaving USC to join the Seattle Seahawks, the coach might be "more inclined to be more forthright in his testimony. I think he'll have less pressure because he's not there any more."

lance.pugmire@latimes.com

Times staff writer Gary Klein contributed to this report.

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