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Former Timbers keeper Jake Gleeson files $10.2 million lawsuit against team doctors

MLS: Minnesota United FC at Portland Timbers Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

Former keeper and member of the original MLS Timbers, Jake Gleeson has filed a lawsuit seeking $10.2 million against team physicians Dr. Richard Edelson and Dr. Jonathan Greenleaf.

It’s truly a sad ending to a long career in Portland. Jake Gleeson was heavily involved in community engagement programs for the Timbers and was a sound keeper who came up with heroic saves time and time again.

Gleeson’s attorneys, Kafoury & McDougal, released the following statement.

“Jake Gleeson, former goalkeeper for the Portland Timbers, MLS Cup winner, and Olympian, filed suit today against Dr. Richard Edelson, Dr. Jonathan Greenleaf, and Sports Medicine Oregon, team doctors for the Portland Timbers, claiming they ended Jake’s soccer career through surgical mistakes. The lawsuit was filed by the Portland, Oregon, law firm of Kafoury & McDougal.

Born and raised in New Zealand, Jake dedicated his life to the game of soccer, then to Portland, Oregon, when he joined the USL Timbers in 2010. He became an original MLS Portland Timber in 2011, starting for the team in its home debut at Jeld-Wen Field. At 20 years old, the New Zealand native was among the youngest goalkeepers ever to start in Major League Soccer.

In the summer of 2018, Jake developed shin pain. On August 10, Dr. Edelson diagnosed him with bilateral anterior tibial stress fractures and told Jake he needed bilateral implants, metal plates attached to both shinbones. Five days later, Dr. Edelson performed the elective surgery. Around the end of August, Jake felt pain in his right leg. His right tibia became severely infected and eventually developed osteomyelitis.

On September 14, Dr. Greenleaf performed surgery on Jake’s right tibia to drain the infection; however, the lawsuit claims Dr. Greenleaf made an error by not removing the metal plate that had caused the infection. Later it became apparent that both shins were infected. Unlike Dr. Greenleaf’s surgery on September 14, Dr. Edelson removed the metal plate and screws on Jake’s left tibia during an October 18 surgery to drain the left tibia infection.

Sports Medicine Oregon physicians performed 11 separate surgeries on Jake’s right tibia and three on his left tibia due to continual reinfections. He is at risk of developing future infections and requiring future surgeries.”

Between 2011 and 2018, Jake Gleeson played over 5,000 MLS minutes, made nearly 200 saves, and won MLS Player and Save of the Week. He competed for his home country from 2007 to 2018, at the London Olympics and FIFA U-17 World Cup in South Korea.

But today, Jake cannot run or jump. Debilitating pain in his shins means he can no longer run or jump and therefor, he won’t be putting on his keeper gloves again.”

When Gleeson spoke to The Oregonian earlier this morning he said, “I’ve had my career taken from me, I’ve had the job that I love more than anything taken from me and a big aspect of my life taken from me. I’m physically not the same. I’m emotionally not the same and I just would like to understand why and how someone could do this. I can’t go through my life not telling this story. (I need to bring) attention to this to prevent this from happening to anyone else.”

Included in the statement made by Kafoury & McDougal, Jason Kafoury states, “An original member of the MLS Portland Timbers, Jake dedicated his life to our team and our city. When he developed pain in the shins, he entrusted his future to the defendants, who implanted metal plates that turned out to be contaminated. Severe surgical infections are rare, and the fact that both legs were infected is almost unheard of.”

Kafoury continues, “After each surgery, Jake was stranded on his home couch for weeks. His body often shook and he vomited from debilitating pain, by day and night. Regularly, this pain stopped him from getting to the closest bathroom or sleeping. Jake frequently went days without even three hours of sleep.”

Sports Medicine Oregon physicians performed 11 separate surgeries on Jake’s right tibia and three on his left tibia due to continual reinfections. His attorneys say he is at risk of developing future infections and requiring future surgeries.