After a wrestling accident left him in a wheelchair, a star student has been awarded $15 million in order to cover his present and future medical costs.

High School Athlete Gets $15 Million After Sports Accident Spinal Injury


Posted on Mar 24, 2009

In January 2007, Mac Clay was a top wrestler and star student at West Seattle High School. However, an injury during a wrestling team practice injured his spine and left him paralyzed and in a wheelchair. Two years later, the student, now a sophomore at Seattle University, has reached a $15 million settlement with the Seattle School district, according to the Seattle Times. The settlement was reached on Wednesday.

In the case, Clay's lawyer argued that the wrestling team was using too few mats to practice on, and that the mats were too small for the number of athletes using them at the time. Since the floor was crowded, two wrestling teammates fell onto Clay during practice, resulting in the spinal cord injury. Extra mats were available and not in use, going against wrestling safety procedures. At the same time, the school's wrestling coaches were not certified by the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association at the time of the accident.

The practice took place on the school's concrete cafeteria floor.

Clay's projected medical needs for a lifetime disability are $29 million, and the family believes a well-invested $15 million could cover his costs. The young man now attends college with his twin brother, although he is no longer able to play the cello in the Seattle Youth Symphony.

The vast majority of the settlement will be paid by the school district's insurance company, Washington Schools Risk Management Pool. Another $1 million will be taken from the school's budget.

In a written statement, school district spokesman David Tucker said, "This was a very tragic wrestling accident. We've been involved in intense discussions, and the district is in ongoing negotiation."

The money, according to the family's personal injury attorney, will be used for Clay "to live a life with dignity and take care of his needs over a lifetime."

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