CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Houston wide receiver Patrick Edwards, who broke his leg when he ran into a metal service cart in an October 2008 game at Marshall, accused the school in a lawsuit of maintaining an unsafe playing field.
Edwards was running full speed for a long pass when his right shin crashed into the cart just beyond the end zone. Edwards suffered a compound fracture and a rod was inserted in his lower right leg during surgery the next day in Huntington.
The lawsuit was first reported by KRIV-TV in Houston.
The lawsuit filed Tuesday in Kanawha County Circuit Court seeks unspecified damages and a jury trial. Also named as defendants were Conference USA and game referee Gil Gelbke, whom the lawsuit said was in charge of inspection and notification.
Marshall had a duty to maintain its football field in a reasonably safe manner, including the removal of obstructions, the lawsuit said. It cites NCAA football rules requiring the officials to remove any markers and obstructions from the playing surface that might be hazards to players.
"We are aware of the lawsuit and have advised our attorneys," Conference USA said in a statement. "It was an unfortunate accident and we are glad that Patrick has recovered so well from it. We will have no further comment regarding ongoing litigation."
Gerald Austin, the league's director of football officials, declined comment.
Marshall spokesman Matt Turner declined to comment on pending litigation, but said the university had not received a copy of the suit.
The Conference USA game was televised nationally and the accident was shown thousands of times on the Internet — even Edwards said he saw the replay of the gruesome injury.
Marshall officials apologized afterward and several Thundering Herd players and then-coach Mark Snyder visited Edwards in the hospital.
Edwards, who said at the time he held no animosity toward Marshall, missed the remainder of the 2008 season but returned to catch 85 passes for 1,021 yards and six touchdowns as a junior in 2009.