Louis Family Speaks Out About University of Notre Dame Football Camp Injury to Son

It has been four years since our son, John-Vincent, was injured at the University of Notre Dame’s football camp and neglected by Director Chad Klunder & Assistant Director Jason Michelson, after repeated requests for medical assistance. We filed a lawsuit against the University because of their gross negligence regarding the facilities and supervision of the athletes, along with their false advertising about how the camp would operate and the fields the athletes would practice on.

It is unacceptable to put young athletes on a poorly maintained intramural field while the Director, Chad Klunder, and Assistant Director, Jason Michelson, watch multiple players slip and fall during drills.

It is unacceptable for Director Chad Klunder and other staff members to ignore repeated requests from a young athlete to receive medical treatment for an injury.

It is unacceptable to leave a child on a dormitory hallway floor without medical care.

It is unacceptable to ignore camp policies and state regulations about notifying a parent or guardian when there is an injury to a camp athlete.

These are all the things that Notre Dame’s Football Camp did.

The University of Notre Dame is attempting to avoid responsibility and pretend like nothing happened to John-Vincent. We want parents across the country to know what really happened and to safeguard their children against unsupervised, unregulated or non-accredited camps.

John-Vincent excelled on and off the field. He was a skilled football player in Maryland and New Jersey. He earned a reputation for being a leader on and off the field. He was going to be named Captain of the Blair Academy football team until his injury changed everything in his life. He chose to attend the University of Notre Dame’s Football camp to hone his skills after attending Boston College’s football camp earlier in the summer.

The facts of the case are very clear. John-Vincent tore his Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL) during a drill on an uneven part of the University of Notre Dame’s intramural field, which was under construction during the camp. After being injured, he was repeatedly denied medical care. When he asked for a trainer to look at his knee, he was told they were “too busy-you need to come back to the practice field later in the day.” As his injury progressed, he was not offered any assistance, eventually being left on a dormitory hallway floor.

We did not send our son off to camp to have staff ignore him in a time of crisis, which Notre Dame’s staff did repeatedly.

The injury itself is NOT a common football injury. Less than 2% of football players ever sustain this type of injury.

My son slipped during a drill when making a cut on the poorly maintained intramural field, falling with all of his weight on his right knee, resulting in injury to his PCL. This injury is called a “dashboard injury” due to it happening mostly in car accidents.

Michelle, John-Vincent’s mother, traveled with him to the camp in South Bend. She was the one who took John-Vincent, who was wheelchair bound, to get proper medical attention at The Hospital of Special Surgery in New York City, 24 hours after the injury occurred. The camp officials never contacted Michelle to let her know that John-Vincent was injured. In fact, when she went to pick John-Vincent up, the camp Assistant Director, Jason Michelson, was not even sure of his whereabouts.

This is absolutely and unequivocally irresponsible and reckless behavior of a person in charge of minor athletes.

Months later, we sought out orthopedic surgeon, Dr. LaPrade, in Vail, Colorado (the best PCL surgeon in the country) to perform John-Vincent’s reconstructive knee surgery.

It was at that time that Dr. LaPrade told my son that the athletic trainer, Rob Hunt, most likely did more damage to the knee performing the drawer test seven hours after the injury occurred.

Our lawsuit outlines the failures of the University to properly operate the camp and supervise the young athletes. The University of Notre Dame was:

· Reckless in management and supervision of the camp and camp participants (who were made up mostly of minors).

· Exhibited gross negligence in their supervision and care of John-Vincent’s injury, and

· Breached their contract with camp participants and parents by falsely advertising what the camp would offer and how the facility would operate.

We are speaking out now because no child should suffer the pain and anguish John-Vincent endured under the “care” of camp officials. No parent should ever fear that their child will be neglected by the very people entrusted with their care and well-being. It’s time for the University of Notre Dame to take responsibility for their actions or lack of actions.

As the St. Joseph Superior Court hears the University’s motion to dismiss the case, we hope and pray justice will prevail. What are we teaching our children if we don’t hold one another accountable? If you do something wrong, own up to it. That’s what Notre Dame is failing to do. The University is trying to push us aside and ignore us. Just like the University did to our son four years ago.

Quoting the Director of the football camp, Chad Klunder “It’s ok, just rest to see if your knee feels better” as my son was dropped off on a Hallway floor in a dormitory. Quoting the Assistant Director, “It’s just a PCL tear-it could be worse. another athlete just tore his ACL… you will be better in two months.”

We believe the judge will not dismiss the case. We have expert witnesses like Dr. Edward F. Dragan of Education Management Consulting, prepared to testify regarding our case. We have videos (provided by the University) that clearly show athletes slipping and falling on the horrible intramural field.

Our family is united in our determination to find justice for John-Vincent and protect all children and athletes from harm when they attend sports camps.

Read press release.

Read copy of the complaint.