Major Lawsuit Filed Against Mater Dei High School for Hazing by Football Team that Resulted in Brain Injury

November 23, 2021

Orange County, California – Greenberg Gross, working with Jeff Anderson and Associates, has filed a lawsuit against Mater Dei High School for an egregious hazing incident that resulted in a brain injury to a student, a newcomer to the top-ranked football team. The hazing ritual, referred to as “Bodies” by teammates, involves two players squaring off and throwing punches at each other with an unwritten rule that the blows remain constrained to the upper-body and torso region. The hazing is over when one player submits.

In this case, the plaintiff, the football player being hazed, was struck multiple times in the head. Consequently, the impacts resulted in various bloody gashes to his face, a broken nose, and a traumatic brain injury. As a result, Mater Dei is now making efforts to downplay the seriousness of this violent attack.

Mater Dei head coach, Bruce Rollinson, said “If I had a hundred dollars for every time these kids played Bodies or Slappies, I’d be a millionaire” when discussing the physical assault with the plaintiff’s father. However, he later denied that hazing exists in the Mater Dei program during a police interview.

Eventually, the plaintiff withdrew from the Mater Dei program and transferred to another school where he was deemed ineligible to participate in any California Interscholastic Federation sports. Due to how Mater Dei filled out his transfer papers, the plaintiff was flagged with a “disciplinary restriction” as a punitive measure for revealing the toxic culture within the program.

Greenberg Gross Partner Brian Williams said, “This incident (shows) that Mater Dei is more concerned about protecting its brand as a top-ranked football program in the country than protecting its students.”

The lawsuit was filed against Mater Dei High School and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange for various forms of negligence, intentional inflection of emotional distress, along with medical and legal expenses.

Read the Complaint

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