High School to Pay $15 Million Settlement to Paralyzed Wrestler

West Seattle High School will pay a $15 million settlement to cover the lifetime medical expenses and care of a former student who was paralyzed during a wrestling practice.

Mackenzie "Mac" Clay, a sophomore at Seattle University who suffered a spinal-cord injury as a senior wrestler at West Seattle High School, will collect a $1 million settlement from Seattle Public Schools and $14 million from Washington Schools Risk Management Pool, the district's insurance company. A lawsuit filed on Clay's behalf charged the district with negligence after two wrestlers fell on Clay as he was wrestling with his practice partner on a single mat placed on West's concrete cafeteria floor. The suit alleged that the mat was too small for the number of wrestlers practicing on it, and noted that additional mats were left on a stand against the cafeteria wall. The suit also claimed that standard wrestling safety procedures were not followed, and that the school's coaches lacked Washington Interscholastic Activities Association certification at the time.

Clay, who was a three-sport letterman and a cellist in the Seattle Youth Symphony, is now paralyzed and uses a wheelchair. His attorney, Jack Connelly, told The Seattle Times after the settlement was reached that Clay's lifetime medical expenses and care needs are projected to come to about $29 million, and that over time, an invested settlement could cover that.

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