Magomed Abdusalamov, a Russian boxer, suffered a severe brain injury during a 2013 fight at New York’s Madison Square Garden. He brought a personal injury lawsuit alleging that medical personnel performed inadequately at the time. This incident was one of several significant problems reported within the New York Athletic Commission (NYSAC), the state’s regulatory agency for combat sports such as boxing.
Barry Jordan, the Chief Medical Officer, and Matthew Farrago were responsible for ringside medical treatment that night at the arena. Abdusalamov’s attorney said the state attorney’s office handled the process professionally and that the resolution seemed to be fair.
An inspector general report stated that Abdusalamov had fought Ismaikel Perez for 10-rounds that night. Shortly after leaving the arena, he began feeling ill and began vomiting, which prompted him to visit Mt. Sinai St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital. Abdusalamov was determined to have a subdural hematoma, which is a gathering of blood outside the brain, which can be fatal in cases of extreme severity. He remained in a coma for several weeks prior to entering a rehab center. He was released from rehabilitation several months later and was deemed to be medically disabled, with great difficulty walking and speaking.
A civil injury case was filed in a New York court citing claims which included gross negligence. The suit alleged that the ringside officials from the NYSAC should have stopped the fight much sooner and that medical personnel had not accurately assessed the boxer’s condition. The officials were said to have failed to detect the likely brain injury or to contact an ambulance to transport him to the hospital.
The settlement that was agreed upon stated that the NYSAC did not acknowledge their fault in the matter. Farrago was found to have taken unauthorized photos of the fighter after the bout and he was alleged to have been preoccupied with using Abdusalamov’s hand wraps worn in the fight as a sales item for a charity that he leads.
Melvina Lathan, the Chair of NYSAC, was said to have accepted extravagant gifts from promotional sources, a clear violation of the agency guidelines. Shortly after the claims, Lathan and other key management abruptly resigned from the organization amid the investigations.
A separate action was filed against three doctors who were ringside that night citing they failed to demonstrate proper medical care. The plaintiff’s attorney explained that this case was filed separately because these physicians were operating as independent contractors in their role—not as state personnel. Thus far the settlement discussions have stalled; however, the family has expressed a willingness to settle for their insurance coverage limits of slightly over $6 million. The defense issued a statement explaining that after evaluating the claim, they found that certain damages such as those for pain and suffering were very excessive and not reasonable based on the circumstances.
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