Clay v. Seattle School District

Case type:  Spinal Cord Injury, Personal Injury, Government Liability, Sports Injury
$15 million Settlement
Jack Connelly, Micah LeBank

Case Summary

Plaintiff Mackenzie “Mac” Clay was rendered a C 3-4 quadriplegic during a high school wrestling practice when two larger wrestlers collided with him during a take down drill, breaking his neck. The incident took place as a result of negligent coaching and negligent training of wrestling coaches by Defendant Seattle School District. March, 2009 

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Case Details

In this particular take down drill wrestlers were thrown in opposing directions in very close proximity on small foam mats. Several of the coaching staff were not properly trained on safety protocol and had even been urged to obtain the proper certification by the school district.

During the drill, Plff Clay was thrown by his partner and collided with two heavy weight wrestlers. The collision caused severe personal injury including permanent paralysis and quadrepalegia.

Plff contends that the wrestling practice was improperly supervised, designed, orchestrated, and facilitated subjecting Plff to excessive, unreasonable, and completely unnecessary danger. Additionally, Plff was placed with an unexperienced and excessively aggressive partner, whose aggressive tendencies were well known and encouraged by the coaching staff. The Seattle School District owed Plff Clay a duty of care and breached that duty by:

  • Failing to follow proper safety measures;
  • Failing to ensure adequate space between pairs of wrestlers;
  • Failing to adhere to standard wrestling safety precautions;
  • Failing to make sure that different pairs of wrestlers were moving in the same direction or taking standard precautions such as staggering start times to permit adequate room;
  • Failing to exercise reasonable care in training and ensuring that wrestlers had adequate space to practice maneuvers and take downs;
  • Failing to properly organize the practice; and
  • Failing to exercise reasonable care in training the wrestlers and staff running the wrestling practice.