Trial date set in Lakeridge hazing case
A trial date has been set in a federal lawsuit that pits the Lake Oswego School District and other defendants against a former Pacer dancer and her family, who allege that hazing took place at Lakeridge High School.
The case is scheduled to go before U.S. District Judge Michael Mosman on Oct. 31 at the federal courthouse in downtown Portland, with a pretrial conference planned for the day before.
Plaintiffs' attorney Leta Gorman said attorneys will now be working on trial preparations, such as retaining experts and obtaining expert reports.
Mosman said in a May 25 order that all defendants in the case should face a claim of negligence. He also said former head dance coach Kayla Nordlum should face claims of false imprisonment, a violation of First Amendment rights and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Karen Vickers, an attorney for the district, has previously said that she considers one claim of negligence against the district "defensible."
The lawsuit was filed two years ago on behalf of a former member of the Lakeridge High School dance team. Now a Lakeridge junior, the dancer said she and other incoming freshmen were hazed at an August 2014 team initiation; according to the lawsuit, the girls were pelted with water pistols; covered with syrup and feathers and told to wrestle in front of intoxicated students, some of them male; coaxed to step deeper and deeper into the Willamette River late at night; and forced to ride unbuckled on the floor of cars.
The young dancer also claims that during a Sunriver trip later that month, Nordlum forced dancers to stay in their rooms by blocking doors with duct tape until parents objected.
The dancer, whose name is not being published by The Review because she is a minor, also said the coach retaliated against her after she spoke up about the incidents and that the school district did not protect her.
Since 2014, LOSD and Lakeridge administrators have revised sports coaching standards to include in-season coaching evaluations and created and implemented a plan to improve school and districtwide culture. LOSD staff has reviewed the coaches and athletic programs.
In addition, the district has brought in a speaker from Coaching Peace, an organization that works to foster empathy and team-building for adults and students.