Copyright 2000 The Daily Record Co.
The Daily Record (Baltimore, MD.)
A Towson University assistant football coach is suing the New England Patriots, two of its doctors and a team trainer, alleging they negligently treated a foot injury that ended his professional playing career, according to a complaint filed this week in Suffolk Superior Court in Massachusetts. David Lee Meggett, 34, a running back who played for the Patriots from 1995 to 1998, claimed he was given pain medication after initially injuring his foot during a 1998 playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Bertram Zarins, a team physician named in the suit, interpreted an X-ray the following day as being negative and told the running back to come back for a follow-up examination in four to six weeks, according to the complaint filed Wednesday. After the pain persisted, another team physician, Michael G. Wilson, performed surgery on the foot in April 1998 and inadvertently severed the EHL tendon during the operation, requiring additional surgery, the lawsuit said. Meggett claimed the delay in the diagnosis of the injury and treatment of his mid-foot “rendered him no longer able to engage in his chosen profession of a National Football League player” and caused financial loss, the complaint said. Meggett, who was the Division I-AA player of the year at what was then called Towson State University in 1988, is seeking an unspecified dollar amount for damages, together with interest and other fees associated with the injury. Along with Zarins and Wilson, Patriots trainer Ronald O’Neil was named in the suit for allegedly failing to monitor the situation properly, the complaint said. Meggett’s attorney, Ronald V. Miller Jr., said his client was coming off a Pro Bowl season and would have commanded a lot of money in the market if the injury been treated correctly. Miller said the biggest problem was that the doctors did not keep Meggett informed about some of the problems involved with the foot. “Dave was very out of the loop,” said Miller, who represents several other NFL players, including Michael Strahan of the New York Giants. “He had a difficult time communicating with the doctors. They actually cut his tendon and did not tell him for a week.” These types of lawsuit are not uncommon in the NFL. Merril Hoge, who played fullback for the Chicago Bears, sued the team’s former doctor for allegedly misdiagnosing several concussions during his playing days, and was awarded $ 1.55 million by a jury early this year. Miller is now waiting for the Patriots to respond to the complaint. He said Meggett remains upbeat despite the ordeal and is looking to coach somewhere in the NFL next year. “Dave is a happy guy,” Miller said. “He has a mentality that really enables him to handle adversity.” Patriot officials were preparing for the team’s away game against the Cleveland Browns this weekend and could not be reached for comment. Miller, however, is confident that the Patriots will have to pay because of the team physicians’ alleged negligence. “I think we will prevail in this case,” Miller said. “Because he is such a stellar football player and would have made a lot of money this season, he should get the proper reward.”