Oregon Court of Appeals overturns ruling in favor of UO, men’s basketball staff in negligence claim of former recruit

The Oregon Court of Appeals reversed and remanded a Lane County Circuit Court judge’s ruling in favor of the University of Oregon and its men’s basketball coaching staff in a lawsuit filed by Crisshawn Clark, who suffered a knee injury during a 2015 recruiting visit.

Court of Appeals Judge James Egan held that trial court Judge Curtis Conover erred in three ways when he granted UO’s motion for summary judgment in Jan. 2019.

“The conduct defendant by that plaintiff alleges unreasonably created a foreseeable risk of harm to him goes beyond ordinary participation in a sports activity,” Egan wrote in the ruling released Wednesday. “It is squarely within the province of the jury to assess the reasonableness of the defendant’s conduct and the foreseeability of the risk of harm to plaintiff. Thus, the trial court erred in granting summary judgment for the defendants.”

Egan also held that the trial court erred in concluding that Clark’s tort claim notice “did not encompass a negligent supervision claim” and “the amended complaint would not relate back to the filing of the original complaint. Thus, the proposed amendment was not futile.” Lastly, the trial court erred in denying Clark’s motion for summary judgment on the defense of “comparative fault/contributory negligence.”

UO athletics did not immediately respond to a request for comment regarding the Court of Appeals’ ruling. Clark’s attorney, Brent Barton, also did not immediately respond to request for comment.

Clark originally filed the lawsuit in Oct. 2017 against UO, men’s basketball head coach Dana Altman and then-assistant coaches Tony Stubblefield, Mike Mennenga and Kevin McKenna and then-director of basketball operations Josh Jamieson. Stubblefield is now the head coach at DePaul, Jamieson was recently hired as an assistant at Louisville and Altman, Mennenga and McKenna are all still at Oregon.

Clark, who went on to attend Pittsburgh and Portland, was seeking at least $100,000 for pain and suffering, compensatory damages and loss of future income voting from a torn left anterior cruciate ligament he suffered during a recruiting trip to UO in Oct. 2015, while he was a sophomore at Canada College in San Mateo, California.

Clark claimed he was invited by McKenna to take an official visit to UO, during which Mennenga put him though a series of drills, including one that involved finishing at the rim through contact from the assistant coach. It was during that drill that Clark landed awkwardly and tore his left ACL, which he had previously repaired for a partial tear six months earlier.

The original filing stated UO paid for Clark’s surgery, but that the workout violated NCAA rules.

Clark missed his sophomore season following the injury at Oregon before signing with Pittsburgh, where he never played due to a separate knee injury. He later transferred to Portland, where he averaged 3.4 points and 2.6 rebounds in 16 games with one start in 2018-19.

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