A civil action filed Wednesday in Oktibbeha County Court has Mississippi State head baseball coach John Cohen named as one of three defendants in a lawsuit being brought by one of his former players.
Mississippi State University and specifically associate athletic director Mike Nemeth are also named in the 17-page filed complaint obtained Friday morning by The SDN Bulldog Blog.
The plaintiff seeking future punitive damages from a jury in this case is former MSU pitcher Forrest Moore.
Moore made 29 appearances on the mound including 11 starts in his Mississippi State career between 2008-09 and compiled a 3-3 record with a 7.17 earned run average with one save and 87 strikeouts. However, Moore was not a member of the 2010 MSU team but was still drafted in 2010 by the Marlins Organization but didn’t pitch a single inning last year in their rookie league.
The SDN Bulldog Blog learned after speaking with Moore’s father, Dana, that the former MSU pitcher is in West Palm Beach going through extended spring training with the Florida Marlins organization.
Moore’s representation, Harris Shelton Hanover Walsh PLLC, one of the largest law firms in Memphis also with offices located in Oxford, Miss., is charging the MSU, Cohen and Nemeth with the following:
- Breach of contract
- Intentional/tortious interference with contract
- Civil conspiracy
The summary of the claim being brought by the representatives of Moore are as follows:
- Once Cohen was hired, the MSU head coach informed several former players recruited by former head coach Ron Polk that their scholarship allotment would be decreased.
- In the fall after Cohen was hired, he initiated workout routines that violated the NCAA rules on practice hours in the offseason and in order to cover up the violation prohibited several former players including Moore from filing the required time limit forms.
- In that same before the 2008 campaign, the claim says Moore began to be dehydrated during a practice and “required hospitalization and was near death according to information provided by Moore and his doctors”.
- Moore was required to throw more pitches than he should have allowed to be engaged in during preparation for the 2009 season and in order to cover up that fact, Cohen had the former players sign and uncompleted practice time sheet form. (It is this statement of fact that is the basis of the reason for Moore’s assertion to Cohen being responsible for the deterioration of Moore’s pitching arm.)
- After suffering a broken nose, Cohen required Moore who according to the claim “had two black eyes and blood streaming down his face” to catch up on his required running and made him do additional running with the injury when he failed to meet the required time on his run.(The claim establishes this behavior as the first step in Cohen’s attempt to drive the pitcher away from the program because he had a 80 percent scholarship.)
- March 23, 2009 – Moore informs MSU trainer Allen Thompson that he had pain in his forearm/elbow area and the right-hander was referred to MSU’s team physician Dr. Rusty Linton and he was diagnosed with forearm tendonitis.
- March 24, 2009 – One day following Dr. Linton’s diagnosis, Cohen required Moore to throw a bullpen session under the supervision of MSU assistant coach Nick Mingone. Once Mingone notice instability in Moore’s elbow, he informed Thompson who then again called over Linton. According to the paperwork, it was at point Dr. Linton said “nothing was wrong with Mr. Moore”.
- March 27, 2009 – Dana Moore, Forrest’s father, requested his son have an MRI scan and Thompson told Dana Moore that “nothing was wrong with him” and “to quit worrying”. Forrest Moore was then required to throw in the bullpen twice (over 100 pitches according to the court document) during a Southeastern Conference series at Arkansas (Moore never saw action in a game that weekend).
- April 1, 2009 – Moore started against Louisiana-Monroe three days after the bullpen sessions the weekend before and allowed one earned run on just two hits while striking out 11 and getting a no-decision in the Bulldogs 7-1 loss.
- April 13, 2009 – After pitching with the tendonitis in a series against Tennessee the previous weekend, Moore demanded an MRI scan and the university provided one. The MRI radiologists Dr. Michael Buehler reported a strain to the ulnar collateral ligament (similar to what was first reported on last year’s injury to current MSU starting pitcher Nick Routt) or a possible tear. Dr. Linton reviewed the scan and reported a muscle strain.
- April 24, 2009 – Following Linton’s diagnosis, Moore started and was dominated by Vanderbilt for seven earned runs off just four hits in 1 2/3 innings of work despite telling the MSU coaching staff that his arm “had nothing” (It’s this pattern where Moore’s representation are trying to establish Dr. Linton as a less-than-credible medical opinion on the matter).
- May 4, 2009 – Moore met with world-renowned specialist Dr. James Andrews (the same surgeon that performed the season-ending Tommy John surgery on current MSU pitcher Ben Bracewell this past summer) in Birmingham, Ala., and Dr. Andrews confirmed Moore had ligament damage to his elbow and “should not have been pitching for several weeks.”
- May 6, 2009 – Upon hearing that Moore needed surgery to repair the ligament tear in his elbow, Cohen informed Moore he would not be granted a medical redshirt and that his scholarship was being taken away.The documentation claims Moore was not given written notification of his scholarship being taken away and not given a hearing opportunity that is required according to NCAA rules. (This is the reason Mississippi State University as a whole is named in the lawsuit). The suit claims Nemeth and Cohen “knowingly, maliciously, and without right or justifiable cause refused Mr. Moore a hearing” and therefore“denied his rights under the scholarship contract”.
All of this evidence is to support a claim that Mississippi State University officials are responsible for the deterioration of Moore’s throwing arm causing an inability for 6-foot-1, 193-pound prospect to pursue a professional baseball career after being drafted twice (out of high school in the 32nd round in 2007 draft by Detroit and last year in the 38th round by the Florida Marlins).
Mississippi State head coach John Cohen declined comment on the matter and when specifically he was officially notified of the action against him when reached by The SDN Bulldog Blog Friday morning. Reports surfaced late Thursday evening the MSU third-year head coach was served the subpoena papers while on the field for pre-game warmups before State’s Thursday night contest at Ole Miss.
4:45 p.m. – UPDATE – Mississippi State athletics director Scott Stricklin released this statement on the civil suit being brought by Forrest Moore.
“We are aware of the lawsuit filed by former baseball player Forrest Moore. We are confident that we operate our baseball program in compliance with the rules of the Southeastern Conference and the NCAA. We will allow the university’s general counsel to comment further on this legal matter.”
All of the SDN Bulldog Blog readers: feel free to follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/matthewcstevens for up-to-date Mississippi State coverage.