Second hospitalized Oregon football player files lawsuit against UO, Willie Taggart, strength coach, NCAA for $5 million – OregonLive


EUGENE — A second Oregon football player who was hospitalized in January 2017 following strenuous offseason workouts that resulted in rhabdomyolysis has filed a lawsuit against the University of Oregon, former football coach Willie Taggart, former strength coach Irele Oderinde and the NCAA for negligence.

Sam Poutasi, an offensive lineman who just completed his redshirt-sophomore season with the Ducks, is seeking $5 million in damages he suffered after his week-long hospitalization for from rhabdomyolysis including “physical and emotional pain, inconvenience, loss of enjoyment of life, and diminishment of avocational abilities, in the past, present, and future.”

In an 16-page suit filed in Multnomah County circuit court on Thursday, Poutasi’s attorneys make nearly identical claims to those made by former Oregon offensive lineman Doug Brenner, who filed an $11.5 million suit for negligence against UO, Taggart, Oderinde and the NCAA on Wednesday. Like the claims made by Brenner, Poutasi claims UO was negligent for failing to prohibit, regulate or supervise the workouts, that Taggart and Oderinde, both now at Florida State, were negligent in imposing and conducting the workouts, and the NCAA has failed to regulate such practices by coaches at its member institutions.

According to the lawsuit, Poutasi was hospitalized from Jan. 13-20, 2017 for acute exertional rhabdomyolysis and suffered from “severely swollen arms, muscle aches and pains, loss of use of arms, elevated creatinine kinase levels caused by AER, discolored urine and damage to kidneys.”

Poutasi’s attorneys claim Taggart and Oderinde told members of Oregon’s football team that “press reports of the hospitalization of the three student athletes were ‘overblown,’ that this was ‘no big deal,’ and that there was ‘nothing wrong’ with the football practices from January 10, 2017, to January 12, 2017, that lead to the hospitalizations.”

Until Brenner’s lawsuit was reported on Wednesday, Poutasi claims he did not know “of the tortious nature of the conduct of defendants University (of Oregon), Taggart, and Oderinde” nor did he “comprehend the tortious and abusive nature” of their conduct during the team’s football workouts from Jan. 10-12, 2017, “particularly in light of the fact that defendant University (of Oregon) had previously communicated directly contradictory information.”

Canzano: Lawsuit by former player sets up an Oregon Ducks vs. Willie Taggart confrontation

The workouts, which lasted several days in January 2017 when the team reconvened following winter break and shortly after Taggart was hired and brought Oderinde with him from South Florida, were described by multiple sources to The Oregonian/OregonLive at the time as akin to military basic training, with one said to include up to an hour of continuous push-ups and up-downs.

Safeguards were in place, multiple sources told The Oregonian/OregonLive at the time, with water available and players were allowed to ask out if needed. However, the lawsuits of both Brenner and Poutasi contend players were not permitted to drink water during the first day of the workouts.

Following the hospitalization of Brenner, Poutasi and Cam McCormick, who is not a party to either lawsuit nor has he presently filed a separate claim, Oregon later suspended Oderinde without pay for a month.

When Taggart left Oregon to become the head coach at Florida State in Dec. 2017, he again hired Oderinde to serve as the football team’s strength and conditioning coach.

In response to Poutasi’s lawsuit, the University of Oregon referred to the same statement it issued in response to Brenner’s claims “The well-being and safety of our students are our top priorities at the University of Oregon,” the statement read. “We have been advised of the litigation filed (Thursday), but have not been served a copy of the complaint, at which point we will respond appropriately in the court proceedings. In light of the pending litigation, we don’t have any additional comment at this time.”

Officials at Florida State have not yet to respond to a request for comment from Taggart and Oderinde and the NCAA also has not responded to a request for comment regarding either lawsuit.

Listen: Doug Brenner speaks out on why he’s suing Willie Taggart, Oregon Ducks, NCAA



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