UCLA's Faoa Settles Civil Suit
Aug. 15, 2002
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LOS ANGELES (AP) _ UCLA defensive end Asi Faoa will pay $100,000 to a former student he punched at a fraternity party more than two years ago, but only if Faoa plays in the NFL within three years after completing his college eligibility.
The financial settlement was reached Wednesday, before a civil trial was to begin in the Santa Monica division of Los Angeles County Superior Court.
The 21-year-old Faoa (pronounced ``fy-OH-uh'') is a fourth-year junior who is expected to contend for a starting job at UCLA this season.
De Zubiria won't receive any money if Faoa doesn't play in the NFL.
``My client wishes Mr. Faoa well, not only because if he does achieve his goal, my client is compensated,'' said De Zubiria's attorney, Paul Zappettini. ``But he hopes Mr. Faoa can move on now.''
Faoa pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor assault charge last Sept. 4 and was sentenced to 180 days in jail. He likely will serve the time after the season. He also was suspended by the Bruins for the first two games.
Under another part of the settlement, Rodrigo De Zubiria will receive a non-disclosed, confidential sum from the Lambda Chi fraternity, where the assault took place April 30, 2000.
``This was a very good day for my client, but it was a very difficult day because he had to reach some resolution to this entire saga,'' Zappettini said. ``It was important to him to be able to close this chapter in his life.''
De Zubiria, now 24, suffered a degree of brain damage when Faoa punched him. Zappettini said his client graduated from UCLA with a degree in psychology, but he needed assistance because he had problems reading, speaking and concentration.
Faoa's attorney, Milton Grimes, said his client felt it was in the best interest of all concerned to settle the matter.
``Asi believes he had a right to defend himself and defend his friend, who he thought was going to be hit, but he didn't mean to cause the kind of damage he caused,'' Grimes said. ``In that respect, he felt the settlement was reasonable in that if he gets some money someday from the NFL, then he will use some of it to compensate this young man.''
De Zubiria wants to attend medical school, although he'll have to do it with a nontraditional approach, Zappettini said.
Faoa applied for a work-furlough program by which he could attend school during the day and spend his nights in jail. However, it's uncertain whether the work-furlough program will survive state budget cuts. Faoa is scheduled to appear in court on the matter Sept. 11.