Woman Seeks More Than $125,000 from Okla. in Legal claim

February 12, 2007

A woman injured last year in a drunken-driving accident involving former Oklahoma State University basketball coach Eddie Sutton is seeking more than $125,000 in a legal claim filed with the state.

Teresa Barnard alleges that OSU and its employees “were grossly negligent and in reckless disregard” for her rights and the public, according to her claim.

The claim, filed with the state’s Department of Central Services, says Barnard incurred nearly $40,000 in medical and injury-related expenses since the Feb. 10, 2006, accident with Sutton, who formerly coached at Arkansas.

She wrote that she suffered injuries to her spine, right knee and right hip, as well as headaches, pain and suffering and mental anguish.

Sutton was driving to the Stillwater airport to catch a team flight to a game in Texas when his vehicle collided with Barnard’s sport utility vehicle, then crashed into a tree without braking, according to reports.

Court records showed Sutton’s blood alcohol level was 0.22, almost three times the legal limit.

He pleaded no contest to charges of aggravated DUI, speeding and driving on the wrong side of the road and received a one-year deferred sentence and was ordered to pay a fine. Last spring, he announced his retirement.

“To date, Ms. Barnard is still under medical treatment,” wrote her attorney, Robert Powell.

Powell declined comment Feb. 8 to The Associated Press.

University spokesman Gary Shutt said the claim is a matter for the state to address, “so it is out of place for us to comment at this time.”

By law, the state has 90 days to investigate the claim. It can either settle all or part of the claim. If the state denies it, Barnard would have up to six months to file a lawsuit.

The claim also alleges that “OSU negligently assisted, enabled, allowed and/or caused Eddie Sutton to be in actual physical control and operate OSU’s vehicle wherein OSU’s staff knew or should have known that Sutton was under the influence of alcohol and/or other intoxicating substances.”

“OSU was negligent in its hiring, training and supervision of its athletic staff, medical staff, security and police staff who assisted Sutton into OSU’s vehicle,” according to the claim.

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