Former Husky football player alleges medical negligence in lawsuit against UW

A former University of Washington football player is suing the college, claiming medical negligence relating to the rehabilitation of an ACL injury resulted in another ACL injury for the player.

In June 2021, then-17-year-old Emeka Megwa suffered an ACL injury while playing football. He underwent ACL reconstruction a month later. 

After his surgery, he enrolled at the University of Washington specifically to get physical therapy and care from the medical team there, according to the suit. The suit says UW assured him that they could manage his rehabilitation. 

Dr. Albert Gee at UW Medical Center, who is also the team physician for Husky Athletics, oversaw Emeka’s recovery, predicting a 9-12-month recovery period. This meant he would likely begin "full activities, including full-speed football" between April and July, in time for fall football in 2022, according to the suit. 

However, when UW fired former head coach Jimmy Lake and hired Kalen DeBoer to take over, a new medical staff came on board and the team began off-season workouts.

According to the suit, Megwa did not have medical clearance to return to practice or other physical team activities. 

"In early January 2022, despite not having medical clearance to participate in team activities, UW coaches instructed Emeka to participate in a team run and lift. Emeka voiced concerns that much of his rehab was being skipped, putting him at risk of re-injuring his knee. UW staff reassured him that he was doing well in his recovery and told him to practice," the suit detailed. 

Megwa's lawyer claimed UW medical staff "constantly" pushed him into team activities without medical clearance. 

While doing a shuffling drill in February, Megwa felt a sharp pain the incision point on his left knew, but he was quickly cleared by staff to keep participating in the drills.

Megwa reported that he continued to have sharp knee pain and swelling but was told to take painkillers and continue the workouts, the suit alleges. 

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Megwa's suit also alleges that he was repeatedly ridiculed by coaches in front of his teammates for not being able to fully participate in the workouts or finish them because of his pain.

In one instance, Megwa alleges a coach yelled: "drop your f****** nuts and get on the f****** line, that's some p**** a** s***!" 

In March 2022, Megwa had an MRI scan which confirmed that he suffered another tear in his left ACL. He also had new medial and lateral meniscus tears, the suit said. 

"Defendants had a duty to use ordinary care in relation to Emeka’s recovery and participation in football activities. Defendants failed to use reasonable care by—among many acts and omissions—repeatedly ignoring and acting against the advice of physicians, failing to seek medical advice, and inappropriately assuming the role of a healthcare provider. This negligence was a proximate cause of Emeka’s harms and losses," the suit said.

The suit names UW and the state of Washington as defendants, as well as nine unnamed men and women on the medical or coaching staff. 

The suit did not list specific damages sought, but said Megwa is suing for "past and future healthcare expenses; and the pain, suffering, anxiety, humiliation, emotional distress, disability, disfigurement and fear of reinjury."  

In a statement, a UW spokesperson said: 

"The health and safety of student-athletes is of paramount importance to the University of Washington. Any claim or allegation pertaining to student-athlete wellbeing is reviewed and addressed by the proper university department. The university is aware that certain allegations have been made. Given the potential for litigation and the obligation to observe student privacy rights, it is not appropriate to comment on the matter."