Camp Pendleton sign
Camp Pendleton gate. File photo

A former member of the U.S. national wrestling team who was severely injured during a training camp exercise held at Camp Pendleton has reached a $12 million settlement with the United States of America, it was announced Tuesday.

Richard Perry and his wife, Gina Cimmino, filed a lawsuit alleging Perry was struck with a baton during a 2018 exercise, which shattered his eye socket and skull, and pushed shattered bone fragments into his brain.

The injury nearly killed him and left him with multiple traumatic brain injuries, skull fractures and “permanent, disfiguring, disabling injuries,” according to the complaint.

His attorneys say the recently reached settlement is believed to be the largest one ever reached with the United States for an individual personal injury claim in the Southern District of California, which comprises San Diego and Imperial counties.

“Richard Perry, a national superstar wrestler, suffered severe brain injuries that ended his wrestling career and left him fighting for his life when he was placed into an unsafe military training exercise,” attorney Robert Francavilla said.

“With his unstoppable determination, along with the incredible support of his wife Gina, his family, and the wrestling community, he beat the odds. Not only did he survive, he now helps coach some of the world’s best wrestlers and uses his inspiring story to help at-risk youth overcome their challenges by getting into wrestling themselves.”

According to the lawsuit, the Marine Corps and USA Wrestling encouraged Perry and other civilians to take part in a military-style exercise involving weapons that the participants weren’t adequately trained to use. The event was partly intended as an initiative to recruit wrestlers into the Marine Corps, according to the suit.

Perry and another civilian attendee of the training camp were provided batons and helmets with facemasks and given “instruction to strike, thrust and jab at the opponent’s head and face to score a `kill shot,”‘ according to the complaint.

As Perry’s training partner jabbed with the baton, the weapon passed through a gap in Perry’s facemask.

Perry and Cimmino’s attorneys say he was initially unexpected to survive his injuries, but recovered and is coaching wrestlers in his home state of Pennsylvania, where he lives with Cimmino and their four children.

–City News Service