Utah man waterboarded at work
05:07 AM CDT on Monday, April 14, 2008
PROVO, Utah – No one disputes that Chad Hudgens was waterboarded outside a Provo office park by his boss.
Mr. Hudgens volunteered for a “team-building exercise, ” went outside and laid down on his back with his head downhill. Then co-workers pinned him down while their supervisor poured water on his nose and mouth.
The supervisor, Joshua Christopherson, then told the sales team: “You saw how hard Chad fought for air right there. I want you to go back inside and fight that hard to make sales,” participants said.
What’s at issue in the lawsuit Mr. Hudgens filed against his former employer is the question of intent.
Prosper Inc. maintains that what the supervisor did, while misguided, was not torture.
“We’re not the mean waterboarding company that people think we are,” said George Brunt, general counsel for the firm. The company sells “coaching” packages for $3,000 to $15,000.
Late last May, the all-male sales team was having “a rough week.” Mr. Christopherson asked for a volunteer for an exercise.
Mr. Hudgens raised his hand, expecting something similar to the last exercise, an egg toss. Prosper officials maintain that Mr. Christopherson explained what would happen; Mr. Hudgens insists he had no clue.
Mr. Hudgens said “toward the end, I’m starting to black out. I’m getting very dizzy, lightheaded. The sensation that’s going through my head is, ‘I’m going to drown.’ ”
Mr. Brunt said Mr. Christopherson said he was inspired by the Greek philosopher Socrates, who reportedly held a student’s head underwater and told him he must want to learn as badly as he wanted air.