Attorneys for the University of Southern Mississippi are seeking dismissal of a civil rights lawsuit filed by a former football player.
Deven Hammond of Baton Rouge filed the suit in November in U.S. District Court in Louisiana, claiming he was not allowed to play on the football team after coaches learned he had only one kidney.
He also claims the university violated the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act when someone from the athletic department discussed his physical condition with a coach at Middle Tennessee State University.
The university in its motion to dismiss, filed Jan. 23, says the Louisiana court lacks jurisdiction because the university and former coach Dan Disch were in Mississippi at the time of the alleged wrongdoing and have no connections to Louisiana.
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However, Hammond’s attorney, William Most, said he believes the case will go forward.
“Deven and his team are confident that justice will be done,” Most said. “He is fighting to protect the rights of all student-athletes.”
Southern Miss attorneys disagree. They say Hammond’s claims against the university are barred by the 11th Amendment, which says a person in one state cannot file suit against another person or entity in another, Southern Miss attorney Larry Roedel wrote in court documents.
Roedel says the state’s Tort Claims Act also protects the university and those acting on its behalf by giving them immunity.
According to court documents filed by Most, Hammond was recruited to Southern Miss by Disch after Disch saw Hammond play at defensive back in 2015 at Louisiana State University.
Disch denies recruiting Hammond and said Hammond reached out to him multiple times, “pitching his interest in transferring to USM.”
“Coach Disch never made a trip to Louisiana to visit or recruit Hammond,” Roedel said.
Hammond said when team trainer Todd McCall learned he had one kidney, he had the team physician meet with Hammond. The university’s motion says McCall also consulted with a nephrologist, although the nephrologist is not named.
Hammond’s lawsuit contends he was sent for another examination with Dr. Stephen Beam, a family medicine doctor, then McCall consulted with a nephrologist who never examined Hammond.
Louisiana Middle District U.S. District Judge Erin Wilder-Doomes has not yet ruled on the motion.