Sham 2.0: Garden City Community College’s $100,000 ‘Independent Investigation’ of the Braeden Bradforth Football Conditioning Death Is Just Another Internal Review by the College’s Insurance Lawyers

Published May 27th, 2019, Uncategorized

Complete chronological headline links to Concussion Inc.’s coverage of the Braeden Bradforth story are at http://concussioninc.net/?p=13441.

 

by Irvin Muchnick

 

There was justifiable satisfaction in the #Justice4Braeden campaign when Garden City Community College paused its stonewalling tactics to announce that it was no longer standing pat with its skewed summary of an internal review authored by its own athletic director, and instead was allocating $100,000 toward an independent investigation of last year’s exertional heat stroke death of Braeden Bradforth following the first day of football practice under then head coach Jeff Sims.

There was also justifiable skepticism from this quarter. Dave Zirin quoted me in The Nation noting that many of the other 35 college football conditioning deaths this century also “had so-called independent investigations funded by the institution. So this is a good step but not nearly enough. Will the GCCC investigation hold coaches and administrators accountable, or merely tweak future procedures?”

My skepticism is now targeted with the information that Garden City’s investigation is being conducted by Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith. This is a giant law firm that has a Kansas office. Lewis Brisbois has no known expertise or experience in sports-oriented investigations or football safety issues and policy; it is merely a “risk management” specialist.

And here’s the kicker: Lewis Brisbois is simply Garden City Community College’s insurance counsel. An article last year in the Garden City Telegram, at https://www.gctelegram.com/news/20180802/gccc-it-employees-claim-they-werent-told-about-hold?rssfeed=true, reported the firm’s involvement in other litigation in the college’s seemingly never-ending recent litany of soap-opera-level corruption.

(Thanks to alert readers who pointed this out to me. In addition, Sam Zeff of Kansas public radio, a strong early voice in the Bradforth story, already tweeted that Randy Aliment of Lewis Brisbois in Seattle “‘conducts internal investigations for universities in anticipation of … legal exposure,’ according to firm website.”)

Garden City president Ryan Ruda and his media spokesperson, Ashley Salazar, do not respond to Concussion Inc.’s queries.

On May 3, the leading public official advocate for Bradforth’s mother Joanne Atkins-Ingram, New Jersey’s Congressman Chris Smith, put out a blistering statement labeling “a sham” the college’s first swing at accounting for the death. The only Republican in the 12-person New Jersey delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives, Smith forged a collective call by all of them for an independent investigation. With this new information that the Lewis Brisbois arrangement is anything but independent, we can expect Congressman Smith to be weighing in again after the Memorial Day holiday.