Walter Mencken 11:31 a.m., Feb. 1
La Jolla High Grad Brain-Damaged, Mother Sues UC Regents
A San Diego woman is suing the University of California regents and the Berkeley Student Cooperative, alleging that they failed to crack down on an epidemic of illegal drug use at UC Berkeley that led to her son's severe brain damage.
According to a report in today's San Francisco Chronicle, Madelyn Bennett is asking for damages that could reach into millions of dollars.
The university owns Cloyne Court, a co-op residential complex where her son, John Bennett Gibson, suffered a heart attack as a result of illegal drug abuse in March 2010, but did not receive medical care until hours later, the suit alleges.
"Gibson had a heart attack because of the drugs he took, but he was deprived of necessary oxygen and suffered a brain injury because Cloyne residents waited so long to get help, according to the suit," the Chronicle says.
"Bennett blames the Berkeley Student Cooperative for establishing house rules that discouraged students from promptly calling police or paramedics by requiring them to ask permission from house leaders to make the calls, and to do so only as a last resort.
"'This created a "wild-west" environment at Cloyne, where residents believed that "anything goes" and there would be no accountability for illegal drug trafficking or abuse,' the suit states."
An August 2010 account by the paper described a long campus history of drug-fueled violence, theft, mayhem and death.
"A particularly bad year for Cloyne was 2006: "Three rapes, a sexual battery, 16 students in the hospital after eating pot brownies, two drug arrests, and the death of former Cloyne resident, Fre Hindeya."
The paper went on to describe Gibson's life at La Jolla High.
"John Gibson grew up in San Diego, the son of a news reporter and a computer engineer. Brainy and rebellious, he played cello with a youth symphony and excelled in track and pole vault.
"At La Jolla High he earned the top score on the English and U.S. history Advanced Placement tests."
"But on tests he preferred not to take, he'd write 'tests suck' on the blank answer sheet.
"The Washington Post wrote about Gibson in 2006 when his principal refused to help spring him from juvenile hall, where he'd landed after being caught tossing fireworks at a friend's house."
"John was loud, obnoxious to some, brilliant and intimidating to others," Dave Medrano, a friend and high school classmate told the paper. "He was always clowning around looking for attention and a good laugh."
"In an e-mail, Medrano writes lovingly about the friend he thought would one day be his best man," the Chronicle said. "But he also worried: 'I would wake up to texts from him about what he did that night, and I remember thinking, that can't be healthy.'
"Gibson, who majored in peace and conflict studies, was 'the most interesting guy I've ever met,' said Jenna Dickman, a girlfriend at UC Berkeley. 'Everyone wanted to know him.'"
Gibson is now in custodial care, requiring 24-hour nursing, the paper reports.