Stafon Johnson Sues USC Over Weight-Room Accident

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Former Southern California running back Stafon Johnson sued the university and an assistant conditioning coach on Monday for negligence in the weight-room accident that
crushed his throat in 2009.

The lawsuit filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court seeks unspecified damages.

Johnson was bench-pressing 275 pounds in the USC weight room when the bar dropped or fell onto his neck in September 2009.

His throat and larynx were crushed and he required reconstructive surgery.

Assistant strength and conditioning coach Jamie Yanchar, who was responsible for spotting Johnson during his lifting, was also named in the complaint.

The lawsuit claims Yanchar was “distracted and not paying attention to Mr. Johnson at the time that the bar was being lifted from the weight rack,” as the plaintiff was lifting 275 pounds for the first time.

As Yanchar placed the weight bar into the player’s hands, he was inattentive and negligent and hit the bar with his body before Johnson had a good grip on it, the lawsuit said.

“The bar was knocked off balance and slipped,” the lawsuit claims, landing on Johnson’s neck.

The suit claims Johnson suffered permanent injuries and loss of future earnings.

USC said in a statement that the university firmly believes it was not at fault, and was disappointed that Johnson decided to file a lawsuit.

“We are sorry that Stafon was injured,” it said. “USC and the entire Trojan Family have been exceptionally supportive of Stafon from the minute the accident occurred.”

Yanchar now works for the Seattle Seahawks with former USC coach Pete Carroll. Attempts to reach him there were not successful Monday afternoon.

Johnson played for the Tennessee Titans in the 2010 NFL preseason but was sidelined by a game injury.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

  • Gold Digger

    Gold digging girls driving me crazy…Trying to make a quick buck. The American Dream.

  • Adelle

    Hey Mr. Johnson…. Next time, try benching a weight that you can handle. Something like 90 lbs. It’s a shame that you’re suing because you’re a weakling that couldn’t handle the weight.

    • BD McGee

      You’re an idiot.

  • CA562DUDE

    I hope he loses thats what you get for trying to show off in the weight room.. In front of your homies….WHAT A REAL JERK !!!!!!!!!

  • TeeZee

    What blood-sucking lawyer put you up to this Stafon? Apparently you need help at everything!

  • John

    USC should send him a f’n bill for education he received.

    • WestlakeVillage Bruin

      That would be about a $1.50

      • UCLAsux

        OH MY GOD! You are hilarious! Bet you majored in econ at UCLA huh? Certainly wasn’t comedy.

  • swhitS

    Is it too much to ask people take responsibility for their own actions? I suppose he had nothing to do with this, it just slipped and fell -right!

  • mg

    OK, so an accident happens doing something that has inherent risks. Take responsibility for your own situation rather then try to make someone else responsible that had nothing part in causing this ACCIDENT. Once again, the slimebag attorneys looking to soak someone for money – mostly to line their own pockets. The world is going down the tubes because of these attorneys and our court system that feeds them.

    • WizardG

      Let the same thing happen to you. If you find that someone else is at fault maybe you’ll just shrug it off and suck it up. That way you forfeit a great sum of money that might benefit your future and that of your family. It would be stupid to let it go, but there’s a fool born every day.

      People who were entitled to receive compensation for an accident just shrugged it off because they either didn’t want to go through the hassle or they felt they weren’t injured. When they get old and the accident begins to show latent aches and pains it’s too late! The statute of limitation cancels their ability to sue. Stupid fools.

  • Alan C Rhine

    COULDN’T MAKE IN THE NFL SUE!!!!! Sound like a accident cause by your own inability.

  • WizardG

    Good luck with that. If your suit is proper you deserve to get whatever is befitting the situation. Who knows how this accident happened? I don’t know how it happened but if a top college athlete is bench pressing and has no spot something is wrong with that.

    • jeffdg

      if he’s benching and has no spot there is something wrong with that … it’s not usc’s fault he didn’t have a spot … he’s a moron!!!

  • Neez

    If the university was at fault, they ought to pay. It’s difficult to make a determination without a better understanding of the facts. Until then, it’s probably wise to refrain from rushing to judgment.

    The lawsuit might sound frivolous to you, but then again, your throat wasn’t crushed.

    • Richie

      This is the best comment yet…..well put.

  • james

    i hope he owns USC after this. Its the responsibility of the athletic department and the University to protect its young athletes. There is no way that Stefan should have been lifting the amount he was without an adult spotting him. If he were properly supervised in the weight room this “accident” wouldn’t have happened.

    • mister s

      Are you serious? He had a spotter according to the article and aside from that this college student was an adult, as was the spotter. He was very likely using a thumbs off grip too which makes it far easier for a bar to slip.

  • Steve Garrett

    It he would have been taking the same “vitamins” as cushing and clay, he would have been curling 275

  • punisher

    Weight training carries an inherent risk of injury which is why they have warnings on the equipment. His stupidity should not be rewarded. If he got hurt by not knowing his limits maybe he should take up a safer sport like yoga. Typical monkey

  • Whittier

    I would understand a lawsuit for negligence if this were an incident in a high school gym; but these are grown men making concious decisions to lift weights without the use of a spotter to assist. He is 100 percent responsible for his actions and live with the consequences. This suit is ludacris and the judge should rule in favor of USC. FIGHT ON!

  • Andy Woo

    i’m a avid weight lifter… and i remember his report
    he was using the incorrect lifting technique.
    his own dam fault aha. and benchpressing especially over 200 pounds is highly unrecommended without atleast 1 spotter.

    • WizardG

      Maybe the accident changed college policy about spotting a bench presser. Though I doubt it. If they have not changed the rules to protect their young student athletes this lawsuit might help them.

      I used to bench over two hundred without a spot for years then one day I was doing the usual when the bar rolled off my palms and fell onto my chest. I had some serious pain for that. It kept me on pain pills for at least two weeks. Luckily I didn’t crack or break anything. I didn’t bother to contact a lawyer because in my mind, I didn’t think I had a snowball’s chance in hell suing 24 hour fitness. Who knows? Lawyers know.

  • CAN

    What about all the warning signs posted for safety? Was he following them? I’d bet NO.

  • Adelle

    And you wonder why California is broke.

  • Dave

    275 lbs isn’t even that much for a running wonder he didn’t make it in the NFL

  • dnutty2011

    what the hell is this world coming to, when injure yourself and can sue somebody else for it, I guess I can sue my neighboor for tripping on his lawn and falling on his soft grass and breaking a finger nail, and I will sue for 2.1 million dollars. wish me luck.

  • Mediator

    Ok, a promising star athlete crushes his Larynx and completely demolishes his throat ruining any chances of having a career in sports, doing the one thing I’m sure he is forced to do daily by the coaches so he can possibly take a football team to a championship and all he gets is a spewof HATE! This was clearly a horrible, devistating and traumatic accident that left someone with severe damages. None of us were there and none of us experienced the horror or pain. The youth have been completely desensetized and have no compassion for others! You may disagree with the decision to sue but remember someone was severly hurt trying to be a better athlete for his team. Grow up commenters learn something in life other than HATE!

    • punisher

      Poor guy huh? I guess he is going to be forced to use his college degree that he didn’t earn on his own merit but sheerly based on the fact that he could run fast and occasionally lift weights properly.

      • Alan C Rhine

        WELL SAID

      • ekg

        i agree punisher

      • Kay 47

        And loss of future earning? Huh? He went to the NFL. Played (and was injured) in the 2010 season. Is currently on injured reserve with the Tennessee Titans. I my opinion, he made an awesome recovery from the weight room incident and went on to play in the NFL. Now a lawsuit?

  • Onclewillie

    Mediator is the one that needs to grow up, along with Stafon. He was an adult at the time of the accident and probably had been lifting weights for years. He knew how much he could handle and if he needed a spotter while lifting at that level.

    Nothing but an attempt by some ambulance chaser to pad his pockets. Hello folks, he is playing for a pro football team and has not, apparently, been deprived of income from his injury.

  • Dave Brown

    Let’s look at the video before we pass judgment.


    If the USC asst coach was responsible for spotting Johnson, and failed to competently do so…then why shouldn’t both he and the University be held liable. Johnson took the risk inherent with weightlifting because he believed he had a competent Spotter…had he known the spotter would have been negligent, then he probably would not have assumed the risk and suffered the injury. If the facts are as he alleges, why shouldn’t he sue??

  • Jim VG

    How bad was theis terrible injury if he was playing for a NFL team? Just an excuse to take someone else’s money. This happened in 2009 and he’s just getting arround to it now? Another worthless LOSER!!!!!

  • joey goinutz

    What an ingrate!!! A world class university gives a kid a chance to make something of himself and this is the payback they get. Just another graduate of the class of “all about me”

    • WestlakeVillage Bruin

      First…World Class University…please

      2nd, SC didnt give him a scholarship out of the goodness of their hearts, they wanted something in return. This “something” is football and the football program makes alot of money. If there is negligence in any aspect of the program that results in injury than Stefon deserves to be compensated.

      No secret, I hate Troy (re my sign in name), but the one thing I thought they did fairly well was the “Once a Trojan, always a Trojan” I guess that only goes so far. The kid almost died, possibly caused by the University’s negligence and you Bozos are acting like the guy was wearing the Blue and Gold.

      You deserve Kiffin….

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