A Lake Oswego High School basketball player is suing the Lake Oswego School District, claiming negligence by three of its coaches caused him to suffer significant injuries during a practice drill in 2015.
Tiam Jon "T.J." Kord, who is now 18, filed the lawsuit Nov. 22 in Clackamas County Circuit Court. In addition to the district, the lawsuit names head coach Marshall Cho and assistant coaches Kyle Stanley and Joel Lincoln.
Kord is asking for a jury trial and $394,422 in actual and non-economic damages. He is represented by attorneys with the Pickett Dummigan McCall law firm in Portland, who did not return requests for comment.
Kord is listed on the Lakers' current roster as a returning varsity player, although he is not expected to be a starter in the 2017-18 season. According to the lawsuit, he was a 16-year-old sophomore on the junior varsity team when he was required to participate in a practice drill designed to teach players how to take a charge — in essence, how to block the path of an opposing player and fall backward after you are hit.
Cho, who was then in his first year as Lakers coach, supervised the November 2015 practice session and had Stanley and Lincoln direct the drill.
Players were told to line up in two separate lines to await their turn and then approach one of the two coaches stationed at opposite ends of the three-point line, the lawsuit says. Players would then set themselves for a charge as the coaches pushed them down and backward toward the free-throw line at the top of the key.
The idea, the lawsuit says, was for the two lines of players to alternate. But by the time Kord's turn came, the timing was so off that players were being pushed into the same area at the same time. When Kord took his charge, the lawsuit says, his head, neck and upper back crashed into the backside of a falling player from the other drill line, whipping Kord's neck forward and causing significant injuries, including compression and endplate corner fractures and damage to his spine.
To date, Kord and his family claim they have faced hospital, medical and therapeutic charges totaling $19,422, with future expenses estimated at an additional $10,000. The injuries have also made Kord sick, sore, nervous and distressed, the lawsuit says, causing permanent damage and "loss of enjoyment of life" to the tune of $365,000.
Kord claims the district is at fault because the coaches failed to adequately supervise the practice session and designed the drill in a way that was unsafe. Because players were not kept far enough apart and the timing of the separate lines wasn't staggered, the lawsuit says, participants could not see the players behind them and were helpless to prevent collisions.
Mats or other types of padding on the gym floor might have helped, the lawsuit contends, although it calls the drills "poorly conceptualized" and says that in any case, the district failed to properly train the coaches on how to conduct safe practices and execute a charge drill.
In an interview with The Review this week for a story previewing the Lakers' upcoming season, Cho described Kord as one of the players who are "giving us really good leadership and working really hard." On Wednesday, the district said it would have no comment on the lawsuit.
"On the advice of our legal counsel," said Christine Moses, the LOSD's executive director of communications, "we do not comment on pending litigation."