Former University of Oregon Football Player Sues School, NCAA, and Former Coaches

PORTLAND, Ore. –  Former Oregon Duck offensive lineman Doug Brenner has filed a lawsuit in Multnomah County accusing the University of Oregon, the NCAA, former head football coach Willie Taggart, and former strength coach Irele Oderinde of negligence stemming from a series of workouts in January 2017.

Brenner’s attorney, Jason Kafoury, claims his client suffered, among other things, life-altering kidney damage after a strenuous session that hospitalized three players, “he had such severe muscle attack…that his kidney’s stopped functioning…it may cost him ten years or more of his life.”

Kafoury says they are suing for $11.5 million dollars and more lawsuits may be coming from the other players hospitalized, Cam McCormick and Sam Poutasi.

Taggart and Oderinde now coach at Florida State University. The University of Oregon gave KXL this statement:

The well-being and safety of our students are our top priorities at the University of Oregon. We have been advised of the litigation filed today 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.

Here is the official press release on the lawsuit from Brenner’s attorneys:

FORMER UNIVERSITY OF OREGON FOOTBALL PLAYER DOUG BRENNER FILES SUIT AGAINST NCAA AND FORMER DUCK COACH WILLIE TAGGART

          Doug Brenner, a former stand-out lineman at the University of Oregon, filed suit today against the NCAA and former Oregon football coach Willie Taggart, seeking compensation for serious, lifelong injuries sustained during a series of highly controversial workouts imposed on Duck players in January, 2017.  Brenner was one of three players hospitalized as a result of the workouts, all suffering from rhabdomyolysis.  This is a condition where the body “eats its own muscles,” creating toxic elements which go through the body causing damage, and in Brenner’s case, permanent damage to his kidneys.

The lawsuit was filed by the Portland law firm of Kafoury & McDougal, and attorney Travis Eiva.  Other defendants include Taggart’s strength and conditioning coach, Irele Oderinde, and the University of Oregon.

 “The drills were done in unison, and whenever a player faltered, vomited, or fainted, his teammates were immediately punished with additional repetitions,” said Mark McDougal, of Brenner’s legal team.

 Said McDougal, “A key goal of this lawsuit is to force the NCAA to ban these kinds of punishing, abusive workouts. These workouts are contrary to NCAA guidelines for protecting players from injury and death. Guidelines, however, are only suggestions.  The NCAA needs to enact and enforce binding regulations that outlaw these practices.”

Other incidents of abusive workouts have been publicized around the country, including that of the June, 2018, death of University of Maryland football player Jordan McNair, sparking allegations of an abusive culture in the program, which, after a massive public outcry, forced the firing of the head coach.

 “This story closely parallels the NCAA’s past refusal to turn its concussion guidelines into regulations, a failure that has led to countless brain injuries; the full extent of which will only become apparent in coming decades,” said co-counsel Jason Kafoury.

When Willie Taggart came to Oregon, he declared his intention to stay, and to dedicate himself to building the Oregon football program over a number of years. Nonetheless, before the end of his first season, he left to become the head football coach at Florida State, walking away from the team and its players just prior to the Ducks’ appearance in the Las Vegas Bowl. Taggart was replaced by the current head coach, Mario Cristobal.

 Brenner remains an avid fan of Duck football, explaining, “Nothing would make me happier than to have this case save other football players from serious injury.”  Medical evidence indicates that Brenner’s life expectancy has been reduced by upwards of ten years.

The drills designed by Taggart and Irele Oderinde, his conditioning coach and fellow defendant, were intended to break the spirit of players who would refuse to push themselves beyond their limits, with Taggart declaring that he was “going to find the snakes in the grass and cut their heads off.”

Doug Brenner was an All-State lineman at Portland’s Jesuit High School, and was a member of the Leadership Team on the Oregon football team at the time of the injuries.  His conditioning and his health never recovered from the experience, and his final year at Oregon in the fall of 2017 was a far cry from that of his earlier years.

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