Lawsuit filed in fatal fall outside UNM stadium - Albuquerque Journal

Lawsuit filed in fatal fall outside UNM stadium

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

An outing to a football game turned tragic for a giant of New Mexico track-and-field sports when he tripped outside University Stadium and suffered a fatal head injury in 2019.

Now, John Haaland’s family is suing the University of New Mexico, alleging university officials allowed what the lawsuit describes as dangerous conditions at the stadium that led to Haaland tripping over a buildup of asphalt.

Haaland, 74, was entering University Stadium to attend a UNM-Hawaii football game on Oct. 27, 2019, when he tripped and fatally struck his head, the Journal reported at the time.

His family filed the wrongful death lawsuit April 28 alleging UNM was negligent in failing to properly maintain the parking lot at the stadium. They are asking a 2nd Judicial District Court judge to award the family compensatory damages in an amount to be determined at trial.

David Haaland, who is listed in the suit as personal representative for John Haaland, identified himself Monday as John Haaland’s brother. He declined further comment.

UNM spokeswoman Cinnamon Blair said Monday that the university does not comment on pending litigation.

A longtime Albuquerque physical education teacher, John Haaland was described by others as a champion of track-and-field sports in New Mexico.

He coached the Duke City Dashers, an age-group track club that thrived under Haaland’s leadership in the 1970s and 1980s.

In 2001, he led a successful effort to bring to Albuquerque the Great Southwest Classic, a postseason high school track-and-field competition.

A UNM graduate, Haaland worked as a physical education teacher at several Albuquerque elementary schools and later coached girls track at Del Norte High School from 1985 to 1999. He was the Region 8 coach of the year in 1996.

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