A former baseball player at Los Altos (Calif.) High has filed a lawsuit against his former coach, claiming his repeated benching during his senior season was the equivalent of being bullied.
As reported by the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, 17-year-old Robbie Lopez has filed a lawsuit seeking a minimum of $150,000 from now-former baseball coach Gabriel Lopez on the grounds that his repeated benching constituted a pattern of bullying and harassment.
According to the lawsuit, Lopez was a three-year starter at Los Altos before his senior year falling out. The beginning of the farrago between the two Lopezes, who are not related, came when Robbie Lopez’s father, Robert Lopez II, complained that Lopez the coach had barred his son from action after the father complained about a perceived double standard between players who took part in a fundraiser baseball game and those who refused.
“For over four (4) months and 14 games, (Robbie Lopez) has been benched and not the opportunity to show his offensive or defensive capabilities,” the suit states.
Michael Ponce, the lawyer representing Robbie Lopez and his parents, said the prolonged period of relegating him to the bench is “an abuse of the coach’s discretion.”
“It’s more of a targeted situation” than a standard case of a coach using his own judgement, Michael Ponce, Robbie Lopez’s lawyer, told the San Gabriel Valley Tribune. “These are repeated actions by the coach, which we feel, my client and I, as well as his father, feel are intentional. They’re targeted against (my client) specifically.”
Whether the younger Lopez’s case moves forward remains to be seen. The Hacienda La Puente Unified School District has refused comment on the matter, but surely will be concerned about the result. If the elder Lopez is found guilty, Hacienda La Puente could be the first school district to officially harbor a bullying coach and have to pay a very real price.