SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A former member of the U.S. national wrestling team, who was severely injured during a training camp exercise held at Camp Pendleton, has filed a lawsuit alleging the Marine Corps and USA Wrestling encouraged him and other civilians to take part in a military-style exercise involving weapons that the participants weren't adequately trained to use.
Richard Perry and his wife Gina Cimmino filed the lawsuit Tuesday in San Diego federal court against the United States and Armament Systems and Procedures Inc., a company that manufactured and sold a padded baton used in the exercise that resulted in Perry's injury on Aug. 27, 2018.
Perry and another civilian attendee of the training camp were provided batons and helmets with facemasks and given "instruction to strike, thrust and jab at the opponent's head and face to score a `kill shot,"' according to the complaint.
As Perry's training partner jabbed with the baton, the weapon passed through a gap in Perry's facemask and shattered his eye socket and skull, pushing shattered bone fragments into his brain, the suit alleges.
The injury nearly killed him and left him with multiple traumatic brain injuries, skull fractures and "permanent, disfiguring, disabling injuries" which "will require extensive future medical care, vocational rehabilitation, and life care for the rest of his life," according to his court papers.
Perry and the other wrestlers were invited to Camp Pendleton as part of a joint event held by USA Wrestling and the Marine Corps that was partly intended as a Marine Corps recruitment initiative, according to the suit.
Perry's attorneys allege National Team members were required to attend the camp, as non-attendance resulted in "adverse consequences, including losing a monetary stipend they otherwise earn as National Team members."
The lawsuit alleges the Marine Corps and USA Wrestling "placed Richard Perry and other civilian Camp attendees into a `fight club'-style full- speed, full-contact military weapons training exercise," and that Marine Corps and USA Wrestling members "recklessly encouraged head shots and baton jabs by the inexperienced participants" during the exercise in which Perry was injured.
The helmets provided to Perry and other wrestlers were "grossly unsuitable for the baton striking drills and posed a clear risk of serious injury," according to the suit. The plaintiff also alleges the Marine Corps and USA Wrestling failed to inspect or maintain the equipment used during the exercise and the batons were "dangerously unprotected," with the padding only held in place by duct tape.
Robert J. Francavilla, the lead trial attorney on the case, said his client "suffered a traumatic injury that has affected his life, his livelihood and the lives of those who love him. We intend to hold those responsible for this injury, accountable."