Riverdale School District and former assistant wrestling coach Chris Lull are defendants in a federal lawsuit brought by student Isaiah Snyder.
In his suit, Snyder alleged he was injured by the former coach during a wrestling practice in the school gymnasium in February 2014 causing him to miss the remaining season and to suffer headaches and pain while walking.
Snyder was a sophomore at the time of the incident, which occurred during a practice session while Snyder was wrestling with Lull’s son Riley. Documents show Snyder executed an escape maneuver that left Lull’s son on his back and in apparent discomfort.
The initial police report and investigation was completed by Matt Haverland of the Muscoda Police Department.
Testimony gathered in the investigation indicated some conflict between Snyder and Riley Lull during practice. Snyder is reported in the witness testimonies taken by the police officer as having walked away from Riley when Chris Lull tackled the youth with crossed arms, striking the youth in the face while taking him down to the floor.
The police report was refered to the Grant County District Attorney Lisa Riniker for review. Riniker chose not to pursue charges against Lull.
According to the documents, Snyder suffered a concussion, and was treated at the local hospital. He also allegedly missed one day of school and the rest of the wrestling season as a result of his injuries.
Snyder said Chris Lull's son was uninjured in the wrestling session with him, and he went on to win the state championship in his weight class.
“It’s not common for coaches to assault students during practice,” said Snyder’s attorney, Jeff Scott Olson. “This guy is not a career criminal, he probably has a clean record, but he lost control.”
“He may have thought his son was hurt, or perhaps he was angry with Snyder for what he perceived as being too aggressive,” Olson said. “I can only conjecture, but he injured a student.”
Snyder was taken to Richland Hospital shortly after the incident and later received additional care at Richland Medical Center.
It will take around 18 months for the case to be heard, according to Olson. The plaintiffs have asked the school to waive the personal service requirement. The school district is expected to respond in the next couple of months, the lawyer said. Once they respond, it will go to the courts to begin the scheduling process.
The decision to file in federal court rather than the state circuit court came in part because “you never know what kind of sympathies and biases will come into play” in the local courts, according to Olson. He also noted that case law for dealing with this kind of suit is more fully developed at the federal level, since the suit is a civil rights case.
“This is a fourth amendment issue – unreasonable seizure,” explained Olson.
The suit seeks recompense both for expenses incurred from the injury and the lawsuit, as well as punitive damages.
“We can’t really respond, since this involves students and there are laws governing what we can say,” said Riverdale Superintendent Bryce Bird on Friday. “And also, I have yet to see the filing.”
Bird did confirm that Lull is no longer a coach with the wrestling program. He said the discussions after the incident led the school and Lull to mutually agree to end the coaching relationship.