A second Oregon player who was hospitalized with rhabdomyolysis after a January 2017 workout has filed a lawsuit against the school, former Ducks head coach Willie Taggart and the NCAA on Friday.
Offensive lineman Sam Poutasi, who just finished his redshirt freshman season, is seeking $5 million in damages after the week-long hospital stay for “physical and emotional pain, inconvenience, loss of enjoyment of life, and diminishment of avocational abilities, in the past, present, and future,” according to The Oregonian.
Poutasi, who played just six snaps this season, joined former Ducks offensive lineman Doug Brenner in filing a lawsuit. Brenner, who was one of three players hospitalized after the workout, filed his lawsuit on Wednesday seeking $11.5 million.
Poutasi was hospitalized from Jan. 13-20, 2017 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,” according to the lawsuit.
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.”
The lawsuits also list former Oregon strength coach Irele Oderinde, who followed Taggart to Florida State after the 2017 season.
The workouts that hospitalized both Poutasi and Brenner, along with tight end Cam McCormick, took place on Jan. 10-12 — just weeks after Taggart was hired at Oregon. The three players were diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis, a syndrome where soft muscle tissue is broken down with “leakage into the blood stream of muscle contents,” according to the NCAA medical handbook.
Oderinde, who led the workouts, was suspended without pay for a month after the incident. Taggart apologized after the suspension was announced, however later defended Oderinde, saying he thinks “our guys just overworked themselves and didn’t hydrate” in an effort to “impress the new coaches.”
Oregon released one statement in response to both lawsuits.
“The well-being and safety of our students are our top priorities at the University of Oregon,” the statement said, via The Oregonian. “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.”
Taggart compiled a 7-5 record at Oregon in 2017, his only season with the school before leaving for Florida State.
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