New York State's Attorney General, who represents the lead doctor and the inspector assigned to the 2013 Magomed Abdusalamov fight in which the heavyweight contender suffered brain damage in a bloody Madison Square Garden bout, filed suit Tuesday against five of the fighter's handlers.
The lawsuit says if there were insufficient care from the state athletic commission's medical team that night, then the handlers were at fault, too.
Tuesday's action comes in response to the Abdusalamov family's negligence and medical malpractice suit filed a year ago against the state athletic commission's chief medical officer, Dr. Barry Jordan, four other doctors who worked for the commission that night, and the commission's inspector. The case is stalled in legal maneuvering, without any witnesses having been deposed.
Abdusalamov, who entered the fight 18-0, complained of an apparent facial fracture early in the fight against Mike Perez, and he later suffered a deep laceration above his right eye that commission doctors sutured after his 10-round unanimous loss to Perez. The doctors examined him -- noting the suspected fracture in commission documents that were obtained by Outside the Lines, gave him a neurological test (that according to the commission documents indicated a decrease in performance from the prefight test) and cleared him to leave, eschewing sending him to the hospital in an on-site ambulance.
After inspector Matt Farrago noticed blood in an Abdusalamov urine sample and suggested that he go to a hospital, Abdusalamov's handlers took him there by taxi.
The native of the Russian Republic of Dagestan underwent emergency brain surgery, but suffered multiple strokes, was in a coma for weeks and has never regained the ability to walk or talk. Now 34, Abdusalamov is cared for at home by his wife after a more than 10-month hospitalization. The couple has three daughters, ages 9, 6 and 2.
The attorney general's suit says if Abdusalamov suffered any damage or injuries due to negligence, then the negligence was "in whole or in part" from his trainer, interpreter, manager and two promoters. The filing specifically cited their responsibility regarding possible stoppage of the fight, pursuit of the use of the ambulance and ensuring clear communications about his condition. Two of the five handlers named were not in Abdusalamov's corner that night, while two others who were -- his cut man and his brother -- were not named in Tuesday's lawsuit. A message left for the assistant attorney general listed on the filing has not been returned.
Trainer John Henry Jackson told Outside the Lines in December 2013, "No one in the medical field over there that night gave me any indication that I should stop this fight ... and the kid was fighting back hard, so I had to give him every chance I could give him to win."
Jackson said he was incredulous in the locker room after the fight, as doctors gave Abdusalamov the King-Devick neurological test that required him to read a series of numbers.
"Why do this? Take him to a hospital. When you get there, then give him the test," Jackson said. "There's time that was wasted because they didn't do, to me, what they were supposed to do and get him to the hospital if he said he's hurting."
And promoter Sampson Lewkowicz -- who was not in Abdusalamov's corner, but was in the locker room and is now being sued by the state -- told Outside the Lines last year he had asked the doctors to send the fighter to the hospital that night, adding: "I never saw anybody get beaten up like that and not get taken to the hospital."
Paul Edelstein, attorney for the Abdusalamov family, told Outside the Lines: "The lead doctor for the entire state says if anything went wrong that night, it's the fault of these five guys, two of whom weren't even in his corner. That's adding insult to injury."