A former University of Oregon offensive lineman is suing the school, the NCAA and other parties, seeking damages of more than $100 million, in a case set to begin Tuesday.
Doug Brenner, a Portland, Oregon, native who signed with the Ducks in the class of 2013, contends he sustained lifelong injuries that also shorten his life expectancy during a 2017 workout, when Willie Taggart then was the Ducks’ head football coach.
Brenner’s suit names Taggart, former Oregon strength coach Irele Oderinde as well as the school and the NCAA.
Portland attorney Greg Kafoury, who is representing Brenner, sounded off on the matter to USA Today.
“For decades, the NCAA has refused to outlaw these remarkably dangerous workout drills – drills designed for punishment rather than conditioning,” Kafoury said. “They have refused to do so out of concern for their own organization’s interests, rather than the safety of young athletes.
“We seek a punitive damage award large enough to force them to change their mind.”
Brenner is suing for a total of $125.5 million, per a copy of the amended lawsuit filed late last month and obtained by USA Today; he seeks $100 million in punitive damages and $25.5 million in total damages from all defendants.
In Brenner’s suit, he shares that he and two other teammates were hospitalized in 2017 for “rhabdomyolysis” after offseason workouts.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) defines “Rhabdomyolysis (often called rhabdo) is a serious medical condition that can be fatal or result in permanent disability. Rhabdo occurs when damaged muscle tissue releases its proteins and electrolytes into the blood. These substances can damage the heart and kidneys and cause permanent disability or even death. In the workplace, causes of rhabdo include heat exposure, physical exertion or overuse, and direct trauma (e.g., crush injury from a fall). Anyone can get rhabdo, but workers in many different occupations have a higher chance of developing rhabdo.”
The CDC Web site features an image of football players in conjunction with its explanatory page on rhabdomyolysis.
In an element that could bolster Brenner’s case, Oregon five years ago suspended Oderinde for one month without pay due to the hospitalizations of the trio of players.
Taggart, who replaced Mark Helfrich at Oregon, spent just one season atop the Ducks’ program, the 2017 campaign; he bolted for the Florida State job but was fired from the Seminoles’ program after two dismal seasons.
Taggart presently is the head coach at Florida Atlantic University. Oderinde followed Taggart to Florida State and then later landed at the University of South Florida, where he worked with the women’s basketball program.