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The family of a high school soccer player who claims she suffered a head injury in a pre-season scrimmage more than two years ago has filed a lawsuit in federal court against the coach and the school district.
The lawsuit says the girl -- who is identified only as M.U. due to her age -- collided head first with another player during the scrimmage in August, 2012. As a result, the lawsuit claims that the girl suffered a serious brain injury and continues to experience headaches, fatigue, and anxiety, affecting her performance in school and restricting her choices of colleges, reports The Inquirer.
Why does the girl's family blame her coach and his employer for the extent of the girl's injuries?
Lawsuit Claims Coach Made Girl Continue Playing
According to the lawsuit, the soccer team's coach, Charles Reed, made the girl continue to play for the rest of the scrimmage, continuing to collide with other players and hit the ball with her head. This was despite being told by one of his own players and a coach on the opposing team that M.U. should be taken out of the game and evaluated.
If true, Reed's conduct would be violation of a Pennsylvania law, passed in July of 2012, known as the Safety in Youth Sports Act. The act requires any student athlete who exhibits signs of a concussion or brain injury be removed from play until cleared by a medical professional.
Why Federal Court?
The complaint alleges that the girl's injuries were caused by Reed's negligence and recklessness. However, the family's lawsuit was brought not as a personal injury claim in state court, but rather as a federal civil rights lawsuit.
This may be due in part to Pennsylvania's Tort Claims Act. That act limits the liability of school district employees, such as coaches, for actions taken in the normal course of their employment, making it difficult for sports injury lawsuits to succeed in state court.