A Washington D.C. court has denied a change of venue request in the case of Prichard Colon, a former professional boxer. Colon incurred a massive brain injury in a fight at Eagle Bank Arena in 2015 and is now in a “vegetative state” and bound to a wheelchair. The defendants are a ringside physician, Dr. Richard Ashby, and promoting companies, HeadBangers Boxing, and DiBella Entertainment.
The court found the case must remain in the D.C. court because Ashby’s business was based there at the time. During the fight, Dr. Ashby had examined Colon’s condition and allowed the match to continue. Since Colon’s match against Terrel Williams, he has undergone brain surgery and is now being cared for by his parents. The claim seeks damages of over $50 million for negligence of the promoters and the doctor.
Colon’s father explained that his son’s boxing career was going very well at the time of the fight. Colon was previously undefeated when he entered the ring to fight Williams, who had landed several devastating punches during the middle rounds. Late in the seventh round, Prichard was briefly examined by Ashby in the ring as he was dazed and complained of head pain. Ashby felt that Colon was going to “shake it off” and allowed the bout to continue through the ninth round. After exiting the ring, Colon collapsed, began vomiting, and an ambulance was summoned.
Upon arrival at Inova Fairfax Hospital, emergency surgery was performed to drain blood and reduce the swelling around the brain. Prichard then spent approximately six months at Shepherd Rehabilitation and underwent additional procedures on his skull for a subdural hematoma. Pritchard’s condition is such that he is appropriate to remain in a long-term nursing facility, but his parents Nieves and Richard Colon have chosen to care for him at their home. Medicaid currently provides him 25 hours per week of in-home specialized treatment.
Prichard earned $50,000 for participating in the bout; however, the costs for him to live in an appropriate head injury facility would exceed $1,300 per day. The family has very modest financial resources and they hope that the lawsuit will allow him to obtain the compensation he needs. Colon is still bound to a wheelchair and is unable to speak. The family has had to make some costly modifications to the home for access to the bathroom and widening of entryways.
The suit contends that Dr. Ashby may have been motivated for the fight to continue, claiming that he had promotional interests in the fight. The plaintiffs insist that Ashby should have stopped the bout in the seventh round instead of allowing Colon to incur potential further blows to the head. John Stiller, lead physician and neurologist for the Maryland Athletic Commission, reported to ESPN that Ashby’s decision was not “medically sound”.
The claim says the other defendants (co-promoters) failed to maintain safe conditions. The Department of Professional & Occupational Regulations oversees boxing in this jurisdiction and handles licensure of ringside physicians. The sport of boxing currently does not have a detailed protocol for suspected brain injuries among participants.