Former USC football player hurt in weightlifting mishap sues school, coach

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Stafon Johnson #13 of the USC Trojans celebrates his touchdown for a 7-0 lead over the Nortre Dame Fighting Irsh during the first quarter at the Coliseum on November 29, 2008 in Los Angeles, California.

A former USC football player injured more than a year ago in a barbell mishap is suing the school. He blames the athletic department’s former conditioning coach for his injury.

Midway through the 2009 season, Trojan running back Stafon Johnson was lifting weights when a 275-pound barbell slipped and fell on his neck – crushing his windpipe.

A doctor at California Hospital Medical Center said conditioning might have saved Johnson’s life; his strong neck muscles kept his airway open. Specialists at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center later repaired his crushed larynx.

Johnson is now suing USC and former conditioning coach Jamie Yanchar. He claims Yanchar wasn’t paying attention – and bumped the bar out of his hand as he tried to grip it. Yanchar now works for the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks under former USC coach Pete Carroll.

Johnson is suing for damages to pay for pain and suffering – and for loss of income. He missed eight games in his senior year and wasn’t drafted by an NFL team.

Johnson later signed with the Tennessee Titans, but sat out the season with an ankle injury.

A USC spokesman says the university “firmly believes it was not at fault” in Johnson’s accident, and is “disappointed” that Johnson has sued.

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