A University of California Davis beach volleyball player is suing the University of Oregon for negligence, seeking $850,000 in noneconomic damages and an unspecified amount in damages for an accident that she alleged in the complaint caused “major facial injuries.”
The complaint was filed in early June, and it alleges that at a windy mid-April volleyball game, coaches on both teams were aware that the heavy umbrellas they were using had a tendency to become unsecured and blow away. All the umbrellas were taken down after “those who had access” were allegedly instructed to do so, according to the complaint.
The complaint alleges that Janice Harrer, an assistant coach for the UO beach volleyball team, put an umbrella back up, and that umbrella blew away and hit the UC Davis player, a freshman named Jane Seslar, in the face. Greg Kafoury, Seslar’s attorney, said in an interview with the Emerald that the umbrella caused a laceration on her chin that reached the bone.
“Major facial scars on a pretty young woman deserve to be taken seriously,” Kafoury said in an interview with the Emerald. “Disfigurement is the term.”
The university has until July 13 to respond to the complaint or the case will be automatically found in favor of Seslar, according to court documents. UO has not filed an answer to the complaint in court yet.
“We were very sad to hear about the UC Davis student's injury, and we hope she is doing well,” UO spokesperson Molly Blancett said in an emailed statement. “Student safety is one of the university’s highest priorities. We disagree with allegations in the complaint about what led to the injuries but are unable to provide additional information at this time due to the pending litigation.”
Kafoury said the economic damages are for Seslar’s medical costs and will be determined once Selsar has completed her medical treatment, which may include another surgery for scar revision. The non-economic damages Seslar is suing for are “disfigurement, pain, fear, anxiety, symptoms of posttraumatic stress, feelings of increased vulnerability, and interference with ordinary activities,” according to the complaint.
“She went through a long period of being extremely afraid that the wound would open up ‘cause it was so deep and so long,” Kafoury said in an interview.
Oregon law states that negligence torts like this one must be filed against the state agency, not an individual employee, and that is why Seslar is suing the university, Kafoury said.
The Emerald will continue to report in this story is it develops.