Family of Ted Agu Files Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against University of California

Tyler ConwayFeatured ColumnistAugust 4, 2014

This Oct. 12, 2013 photo released by shows California's Ted Agu, right, tackling UCLA's Damien Thigpen, in Pasadena, Calif. Agu died Friday morning, Feb. 7, 2014. He was 21. The school announced Agu's death and said its thoughts and prayers were with Agu's family, friends and teammates. The school said it would give more information about the circumstances later. (AP Photo/, Michael Pimentel) MANDATORY CREDIT
Michael Pimentel/Associated Press

The family of former California defensive lineman Ted Agu, who died after collapsing during a training run due to a heart condition, is planning on filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the university this week.   

Kyle Bonagura of reported that a news conference is scheduled for Tuesday, where the family will announce the suit. In a press release issued by the family's representation, the Cal coaching staff and trainers are accused of providing substandard care:

Despite the symptoms which clearly could and should have been observed, UCB coaches and trainers failed to immediately come to Agu's assistance. It was only after Agu struggled and encountered obvious difficulties for a significant period of time that intervention occurred and he was placed on a cart and taken back towards the stadium where he collapsed for the last time.

Agu made nine total tackles in three years at Cal, serving mostly as a reserve linebacker and defensive lineman. The 21-year-old Bakersfield native collapsed after being pulled out of a February run with teammates. 

Nathan Phillips/Associated Press

Doctors later determined that he passed away due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a disease described by the Mayo Clinic as "the heart muscle becom(ing) abnormally thick." The disease can go undetected because it is often asymptomatic. As noted by Henry K. Lee of the San Francisco Chronicle, basketball players Hank Gathers and Reggie Lewis are among the notable athletes to die from the disease in the past. Whether Agu was aware of the condition is unknown.

Cal team physician Dr. Casey Batten said in February that Agu had never shown any previous signs of struggle during workouts. Bonagura also highlighted a CBS Sports report in February that claimed the school knew Agu suffered from sickle-cell disease, which can cause a shortage of oxygen in parts of the body.

The release from the Agu family attorneys states he showed signs of the sickle-cell disease before Cal coaches pulled him out of the drill, per Jeff Faraudo of the Bay Area News Group:

During the course of the conditioning drill, Agu experienced dizziness, shortness of breath, loss of balance, and other signs of extreme fatigue that were clearly symptomatic of the sickling process. Despite the symptoms which clearly could and should have been observed, UCB coaches and trainers failed to immediately come to Agu's assistance.

No one within the university or Cal football team has commented on the lawsuit. In the aftermath of Agu's death, the school created the Ted Agu Memorial Scholarship Fund. The scholarship is designed to honor one student-athlete per school year.

The Agu family has not publicly indicated how much financial compensation it is requesting.


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