The account of what happened inside the US Open women’s locker room the night of Sept. 4, 2015 has come out in dribs and drabs over the last 18 months.
But the motion filed by Genie Bouchard’s lawyer Benedict Morelli Tuesday accusing the USTA of inappropriate conduct during the litigation process includes virtually a blow-by-blow description of the events of the night the 23-year-old suffered a concussion.
In a nutshell, everything that had to go wrong, did. For a question of five minutes, Bouchard’s life changed.
It should be noted that what is termed as “statement of facts” in the motion is, in fact, information gathered entirely from the plaintiff’s side and from depositions taken from other relevant parties by the plaintiff’s side.
Click here to read about the motion filed by Bouchard’s lawyers against the USTA for “spoliation of evidence.”
We summarize it here in point form.
* The mixed doubles match with Nick Kyrgios ended at approximately 9:45 p.m.
*Bouchard returned to the locker room at about 10:05 p.m. and went to her locker. Then she had a shower.
*Bouchard then talked to the on-duty WTA trainer, Kristy Stahr. Stahr asked Bouchard if she needed anything from the training staff (she wouldn’t, generally, as Tennis Canada had a trainer on hand in New York for the Canadian players).
*Bouchard said she would do her cooldown, her press conference, and “specifically stated” she would return to the locker room to use the ice bath.
*In her deposition, Stahr said she stayed in the locker room to wait for her.
*Bouchard returned to the locker room at about 11:10 p.m. and found all the trainers had left for the evening.
*In the security camera footage provided by the USTA, it was established that they left at 11:05 p.m. – just five minutes before Bouchard returned. Only locker-room attendants remained.
The search for Bouchard
*Stahr said in her deposition she didn’t go searching for Bouchard before leaving. The WTA’s Eva Scheumann, the senior therapist on duty that night, went to look for her, but couldn’t find her. Stahr said they “had waited long enough”. And the trainers left. When they left, the tile floor in the trainer’s room hadn’t yet been cleaned.
*The locker-room attendants were required to wait for all trainers and players to be gone for the night before cleaning the floor.
*The locker-room supervisor, Karen Owens, said one way she determined whether it was safe to go in and clean – i.e. that everyone was gone – was when the WTA trainers left.
*Owens said this was the first time this particular cleaning substance had been used on that floor, more of a “heavy-duty cleaning substance.”
*Owens said she saw Bouchard come back into the locker room after the floor had been sprayed with it, but didn’t warn her the slippery substance was on the floor.
*There were “no caution or warning signs of any kind” to indicate the floor was slippery or wet. Bouchard took about three steps, fell backwards and hit her head on the hard tile floor.
*The substance “was burning Ms. Bouchard’s skin so severely that she was even heard by one of the locker-room attendants screaming in pain. She then rushed to the shower to clean it off.”
Scheumann’s deposition – Nov. 30, 2016
The WTA trainer’s title is senior manager.
*EVA Scheumann waited an hour, and then says she left the locker rom to look for Bouchard. She says she looked for her in fitness center, the players’ lounge and in the area around the three interview rooms.
*Scheumann says she asked a security guard outside the door of Interview Room 1 if Bouchard was inside, but says the guard answered that she didn’t know. (In fact, that’s exactly where Bouchard was). She says she asked if she could go inside to check, but was refused permission. Scheumann didn’t open the doors to the other two rooms to see if Bouchard, by chance, was there.
*At that point, Scheumann returned to the locker room and told the other staff she couldn’t find Bouchard. They assumed she wasn’t returning as previously planned, And then it was decided (there is contradicting testimony about whose decision it was) to leave at 11:05 p.m.
*Scheumann said she sent Bouchard an e-mail at 11:08 p.m. telling her everyone had left but that they would come back if she needed anything – including an ice bath.
*Just a couple of minutes after that, Bouchard returned to the locker room. And then, the accident.
Timing is everything
If you follow the chain of events to its proper conclusion, it appears the cleaning product was applied during the exact five-minute period between the time the trainers left and the time Bouchard returned to the locker room.
What are the odds? Those five minutes changed Bouchard’s life.
Had they applied the substance even five minutes later, there may well have been a locker-room employee in the training room when Bouchard went through to take her ice bath. And there would have been every likelihood that she might have been warned, or perhaps have someone there to catch her.
Had the substance been applied later, the employee doing the application might have spotted Bouchard in the ice bath next door, and warned her the floor might be slippery on her way out.
They say timing is everything in life. In this case, that’s exceptionally true.