As a high school wrestler and the father of an All-Prep wrestler, the recent conclusion of a paralyzed high school grappler’s personal injury case was of special interest to me and the rest of the trial team at Abrams Landau, Ltd.
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, reported that the Seattle Public Schools have agreed to pay $15 million to settle a lawsuit filed by a former high school wrestler who was paralyzed during a practice session. According to an attorney for Mac Clay, coaches failed to use proper safety procedures and were not properly certified by the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association. At the time of the incident, Clay, who now uses a wheelchair, was a three sport standout at West Seattle High School.
Mac Clay, then a senior, was at wrestling practice in the school cafeteria when he was driven backward into two wrestlers going in the opposite direction. The accident left him with limited use of his arms and no movement in his fingers and triceps. At the time, 13 wrestling team members were practicing using one mat on the concrete floor, although there were extra mats nearby. “They didn’t follow the normal safety rules,” said one of Clay’s lawyers. “The coaches weren’t certified and hadn’t attended safety classes required” by the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association. The settlement payment is covered by the school district’s insurance carrier, but had it been more than $15 million, the difference would have come directly from the district.