Former Alta basketball player files lawsuit after receiving life-altering brain injuries

Aug 4, 2023, 4:46 PM

Alta High School is pictured. A former Alta High School basketball player is suing the high school,...

FILE: Alta High School in Sandy is pictured on Tuesday, June 7, 2022. A former Alta High School basketball player is suing the high school, Canyons School District, and a former teammate after he reportedly received several life-altering injuries. (Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)

(Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — A former Alta High School basketball player is suing the high school, Canyons School District, and a former teammate. The suit alleges that the student received several life-altering injuries after team practice.

Timeline of the incident

Fifteen-year-old Santiago Lake was on Alta High School‘s sophomore basketball team in 2020 when he said a teammate punched him in the head.  

The suit alleges that on January 15, 2020, during a team practice, Lake “encouraged” Kyle Valdez to “increase his efforts.” In response, Valdez “became visibly angry” and further shouted at Lake to “meet him in the locker room.”

Valdez proceeded to sit on the bleachers for the rest of practice according to the lawsuit.

Once practice was over, Valdez allegedly approached Lake in the locker room and repeatedly told Lake to “fight him.” According to the lawsuit, Lake refused and began to turn away when Valdez hit him in the head causing intense pain.

The lawsuit states Lake was then taken to the hospital, “where he was diagnosed with numerous life-altering injuries, including a traumatic brain injury.”

Actions included in the lawsuit

Lake is suing Alta High School and Canyons School District for “negligence, gross negligence, recklessness, and willful misconduct,” according to the suit.

The lawsuit reads these entities are liable because they owe “duties of reasonable care to … students,” and because Alta High “knew about [Valdez’s] violent tendencies based on prior incidents, including incidents involving violent altercations during athletic events.”

Valdez is being sued for negligence states the lawsuit, because he breached “his duty to avoid harming others” which “negligently resulted in the severe and permanent injuries sustained by the Plaintiff.”

The damages involved in the suit include past and future damages for:

  • costs of medical treatment and health care,
  • lost wages/impaired earnings, if any,
  • disfigurement, impairment of bodily functions, and pain and mental anguish suffered,
  • compensated and gratuitous care services, including attendant care, nursing care, therapy, etc., if any,
  • the payment of medical expenses, rendered to and/or paid on behalf of Lake by other persons and entities, and
  • general damages for Lake’s pain and suffering (both mental and physical), alterations in Lake’s lifestyle, and disfigurement.

There is no set monetary amount tied to this lawsuit.

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Former Alta basketball player files lawsuit after receiving life-altering brain injuries