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Boxer suffered severe injuries after a professional match at Madison Square Garden. Thomas v. Farrago, 2018 N.Y. Slip Op. 32280 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2018)


Boxing is an inherently dangerous sport where serious injuries, especially to the brain, are not uncommon. The intense physical contact and repeated blows to the head can result in significant trauma, including concussions, brain bleeds, and other severe conditions. Prompt medical attention is necessary to properly treat these injuries and minimize long-term damage. Immediate and effective medical intervention can mean the difference between a full recovery and permanent disability.

The case of Magomed Abdusalamov highlights the importance of timely medical response. Thomas v. Farrago, 2018 N.Y. Slip Op. 32280 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2018). Abdusalamov, a professional heavyweight boxer, sustained a severe brain injury during a match at Madison Square Garden. Despite showing no immediate signs of neurological distress ringside, he began exhibiting serious symptoms shortly after leaving the venue. His condition deteriorated rapidly, leading to a diagnosis of a left-sided subdural hematoma, which required emergency neurosurgery.

Ringside physicians play a vital role in diagnosing and managing injuries sustained during matches. Their ability to recognize and respond to signs of brain trauma is essential. Failure to act swiftly can have severe, life-altering consequences, as demonstrated by Abdusalamov’s tragic experience.

Background Facts
Magomed Abdusalamov and Ismaikel Perez fought a professional boxing match at Madison Square Garden on November 2, 2013. Neither boxer was knocked down or out, and the match concluded without any apparent severe injuries. Dr. Varlotta, a ringside physician, observed Abdusalamov from 10:35 p.m. until the end of the match at 10:51 p.m. He then examined Abdusalamov in the locker room, noting no neurological issues. Dr. Varlotta performed various tests, including the King-Devick test, and found no significant changes from pre-match results.

Despite Abdusalamov’s complaints of facial pain and a possible nasal fracture, Dr. Varlotta did not observe any signs of brain trauma or other severe injuries. Abdusalamov left Madison Square Garden at around 11:57 p.m. and began showing signs of neurological distress shortly after. He arrived at Roosevelt Hospital’s emergency department at 12:31 a.m., where a CT scan revealed a left-sided subdural hematoma. Abdusalamov underwent emergency neurosurgery at approximately 1:56 a.m.

On June 26, 2014, Abdusalamov’s guardian and family filed a personal injury lawsuit, alleging medical malpractice and negligence against Dr. Varlotta and others involved in the event. The plaintiffs claimed that the physicians failed to properly assess and treat Abdusalamov, leading to his permanent injuries.

Whether Dr. Varlotta and other medical professionals involved deviated from standard medical practices in their post-match evaluation and care of Abdusalamov, potentially leading to his severe injuries.

The court concluded that Dr. Varlotta’s actions during and after the boxing match did not deviate from accepted medical standards. As a result, the complaint against him was dismissed with prejudice.

The court’s decision was heavily influenced by expert testimonies, particularly from Dr. Michael Schwartz and Dr. Steven Allen Sparr. These experts testified that Dr. Varlotta had appropriately assessed Abdusalamov’s condition immediately following the match and that the boxer showed no signs of neurological distress until over an hour after leaving the venue. They argued that the rapid onset of symptoms and subsequent diagnosis indicated a very sudden deterioration that could not have been anticipated or addressed in the time frame between the end of the match and the onset of symptoms.

Moreover, the experts emphasized that even if Abdusalamov had been kept for observation or immediately transported to the hospital, the outcome would likely have been the same due to the nature and rapid progression of his injuries. This expert analysis significantly influenced the court’s decision, as it directly addressed the causation aspect of the malpractice claims.

If you or someone you know has suffered from a brain injury, particularly one related to sports, it is crucial to seek legal guidance. An experienced New York brain injury lawyer can help navigate the complex legal landscape to ensure that your rights are protected and that you receive the compensation you deserve. Do not hesitate to reach out to a professional who can provide the expertise and support necessary during such challenging times.

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