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Former Player Sues Seton Hall Over Injury Misdiagnosis

Paul Steinbach

Myles Powell, a former guard on the Seton Hall University men’s basketball team, has sued the school, coach Kevin Willard and a staff member for allegedly failing to properly diagnose a knee injury during his senior year.

The lawsuit, filed last week in New Jersey Superior Court in Essex County, charges the university, Willard and director of sports medicine Tony Testa with negligence, breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty causing severe permanent injury including physical pain, emotional distress and monetary damages, The Setonian reported, citing the Associated Press.

As reported by USA TodayPowell suffered the injury in question during the second game of the 2019-20 season. At the time, Testa told him the injury was confined to his ankle and that he could continue to play without worsening the injury, according to the suit.

As Powell continued to play for Seton Hall that season, he felt a growing pain in his right knee. When he would question Testa about the injury, Testa advised him it was merely a bruised bone and there was no harm in continuing to play on the leg, Powell alleges. Testa injected Powell with medication to manage the pain.

Powell claims the injury was, in fact, a torn meniscus — the cartilage that acts as a cushion between a person's thigh and shin bones — and that such an injury should have kept him out for the remainder of the season.

USA Today reported that Powell, a 6-foot-2 guard from Trenton, N.J., was a four-star recruit who exceeded all expectations as a collegian. As a senior in 2019-20, he became the first Seton Hall basketball player in 67 years to earn First-Team All-America honors from the Associated Press. He averaged 21.0 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.9 assists while leading Seton Hall to a 21-9 record and a share of the Big East regular-season title. He was named Big East Player of the Year, won the Jerry West Award as college basketball’s top shooting guard, and exited with 2,252 collegiate points, third in program history.

By exceeding 2,000 career points, Powell was all but assured a securing a spot in the NBA draft, his suit claims. He entertained thoughts of leaving school to enter the NBA draft following his junior year, but Seton Hall's coaches and Powell’s father convinced him to continue until he graduated. As an incentive, the school offered to take out an insurance policy on Powell in the event of injuries incurred through his final year with the school.

Ultimately, he went undrafted and was signed as a free agent by the New York Knicks, but did not make the team. 

Powell claims in the suit that Testa failed to properly diagnose and treat his injury and inform him of the risks of continued participation in the basketball season. (The suit identifies Testa as an M.D. and team physician, but the university's website does not corroborate those titles.)

Likewise, Powell charges Willard and the university with negligence, as well as breaching their contract with him and obligation to exclude him from gameplay and practice that would worsen his health.

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