Man struck by discus sues Medford Rotary

A man who suffered traumatic head injuries two years ago from an errant discus at a Rotary relay at North Medford High School has sued the Medford Rotary Club for failing to safeguard spectators' safety.

Steven Gall, who was struck with a discus while photographing the relay on April 7, 2007, also filed a claim against the Medford School District. He settled with the district's insurance company for a sum of $125,000 about six weeks ago, says district attorney Tim Gerking.

An adjuster from Special Districts Association of Oregon negotiated with Gall and his attorney and agreed to the settlement after Gall filed a tort claim notifying the district of his intention to sue.

Gall filed the lawsuit against the Medford Rotary Club on April 6, seeking about $2.7 million in compensation.

Rotary members maintain they were only volunteers at the relay at North Medford's Bowerman Field. As a result, they say they believe the school district's settlement will cover the Rotary as well.

"I guess it's a misunderstanding," says Chuck Root, Medford Rotary assistant governor. "I am hoping the attorneys can figure this out, and nothing else will have to happen."

The Rotary's attorney, Jim Wallan, says he's uncertain yet whether the district's settlement would, in fact, cover the club. He says he is still investigating the matter and will soon file an answer to the lawsuit.

"We intend to defend our client," Wallan said.

Gall was struck in the skull above his right eye by a 3.3-pound discus while photographing the relay from the spectator area outside the boundary flags. In his lawsuit, he alleges the Rotary volunteers were negligent because they failed to warn spectators that a discus had flown into the spectator area earlier in the day before he was struck and that general setup of the spectator area was dangerous.

Gall suffered fractures of the skull and brain lacerations and still has a cognitive disorder as a result of the injuries, according to court records.

The brain damage has hampered Gall's ability to read, work and do his other usual activities, according to court records.

Gall and his attorney could not be reached Monday.

Gall is seeking noneconomic damages of $2.5 million plus compensation for $65,000 for medical expenses, the loss of $3,500 in income and the likelihood of losing $125,000 or more in income in the future.

"We just feel terrible that the accident occurred," Root says. "It was one of those freak things."

The incident prompted the Medford School District and other Southern Oregon districts such as Central Point to take steps to improve safety protocol at track meets. Medford moved the spectator area farther away from the field.

Reach reporter Paris Achen at 541-776-4459 or

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