lawsuit against IMG academy

IMG Academy´s Doctor and Nurse Sued in Death of Adolescent

By Daniel Hawn

Published on February 15, 2006

The estate of Christian Chalita filed the lawsuit against Dr. Joseph Soler and Nurse Carol Yarosz Tomlinson who work out of Bradenton, Florida. for IMG Academies. According to the suit, Chalita passed out while exercising on a treadmill at IMG academy, a private school for aspiring professional athletes, in October 2004.

Chalita was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The lawsuit filed Friday accuses Soler and Yarosz Tomlinson of failing to perform a comprehensive physical examination of Chalita. It further accuses the two of failing to oversee Chalita's workout regimen and failing to identify his heart condition, in spite of having been informed that Chalita's father died when he was 32 years old of possible heart trouble, the suit states.

Tests that were conducted on Chalita after his death revealed that he had an irregularly shaped heart.

Chalita had been enrolled at IMG academy since fall 2002. The month prior to his death, he successfully completed a physical examination.

Chalita's mother earlier filed a lawsuit against IMG academy, accusing its staff of failing to adequately monitor her son's activities at the time of his death.


A 16-year-old boy died at an internationally-known athletic training facility because officials there failed to ensure he was physically fit enough to endure its rigorous programs, and a doctor closely affiliated with the center failed to properly evaluate the teen and diagnose his heart condition, according to a lawsuit.

IMG Academies, a $2 billion dollar, world famous athletic training and education enterprise in Bradenton, Florida, is facing a wrongful death lawsuit after Christian Chalita collapsed on a treadmill and died in 2004.

In Florida, before a child is allowed to participate in an athletic program, they must first be examined to make sure they are physically able to endure the activity.

IMG Academies, which heavily recruits international student-athletes, has a responsibility to make sure the young athletes are fit to participate in its strenuous programs. Officials also are tasked with keeping the students, many of whom leave their families, to come and train at IMG.

But in 2004, IMG’s negligence led to the death of the young, rising basketball star.

Christian Chalita, who was born in Florida but raised by his mother in Mexico, desperately wanted to become a professional basketball player. Officials at IMG assured Christian’s family in Mexico that they would take good care of her son. The school’s handbook boasted of an on-campus, sophisticated medical facility staffed with competent personnel. Christian’s health would be monitored, but, more importantly, his participation in IMG’s basketball training program would mold him into a stellar athlete – one that would play on the college level, and likely, even professional.

Once at IMG, Christian had to complete a medical history form. He was sure to indicate that his biological father had an undiagnosed heart condition and died in his 30’s from a heart attack.

IMG officials shirked a simple responsibility: Review medical history forms to make sure nothing required follow-up, that there was nothing the coaches and trainers should be aware of with each student. Instead, they filed the sheet away in a drawer, sight unseen.

And Christian continued his education and training at IMG for the next two years. He lived with a Bradenton family, attended school at IMG and trained there.

Because Christian’s mother still was in Mexico, the doctor who performed his physical for Christian’s second year at IMG had to sign the parent/guardian line of the form permitting him to participate in the program. That doctor, Joseph Soler, gave Christian the all clear, even though there was some controversy over the medical history form.

Barry Maron, a nationally recognized cardiac specialist, said Christian’s family history should have been a red flag. The doctor should have followed up with a simple and relatively short test: an echocardiogram. That would have shown that Christian shared his father’s heart condition and should not have been participating in such a rigorous physical program.

In September of 2004, Carol Yarosz Tomlinson, a nurse at a walk-in clinic, gave Christian a physical examination and cleared him to participate in his third year at IMG, even though she, too, knew about his father’s death. That October, Christian collapsed on a treadmill. He was found on the floor, bloodied with a laceration and hematoma to the head.

Coaches and staff in the training room had no idea Christian had a heart condition that caused his collapse. They told a 911 dispatcher they thought he was having a seizure. Had school officials bothered to look at Christian’s forms when he enrolled, they could have made the coaches aware, and therefore better equipped in case something happened.
As it was, the school’s only defibrillator was across campus in the nurse’s office. No help to Christian.

IMG claims to groom students to be college and professional-level athletes. Their 12,000 yearly student/athletes come from over 80 countries, and travel far from their homes and families on the promise that they will someday rise to athletic greatness. IMG charges great sums of money for their training program—as high as $70,000 per year. Knowing their program is rigorous, regimented and more strenuous than the average high school training level, IMG officials have a greater responsibility to track and monitor their students’ health. Families pay expensive tuition with the expectation that their children will be well supervised and cared for.

Had IMG officials, Dr. Soler and Nurse Tomlinson simply fulfilled the basic responsibilities of their positions, Christian Chalita would be alive today.