Former Ducks player sues UO, Willie Taggart for $11.5 Million

Photo credit: Bennett Dewan

Doug Brenner, former Oregon Ducks offensive lineman, has filed a lawsuit against the University of Oregon and former head football coach Willie Taggart for $11.5 Million dollars for negligence stemming from his 2017 hospitalization from strenuous offseason workouts.

Former strength coach Irele Oderinde is also named in the lawsuit, as well as the NCAA.

Read more on the lawsuit here.

Taggart was in Eugene from December 2016, the time of his hiring, to December 2017, the time of his sudden departure from Oregon for his “dream job” at Florida State.  The Noles went 5-7 in Taggart’s first season, the first time they missed a bowl game in 36 years.

Taggart’s Ducks were 7-5, playing five games with injured star quarterback Justin Herbert.

Brenner was one of three Ducks players hospitalized from workouts in January 2017.  The other players were tight end Cam McCormick and offensive lineman Sam Poutasi.  Each player was diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis, which occurs when muscles break down, and muscle contents leak into the blood system.

Update:  Press Release from the offices of Brenner’s lawyers, Jason and Gregory Kafoury and Mark McDougal

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.

@1029TheGame

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