Soccer Coach Sued For Allegations of Injury After Not Following Concussion Protocols

Interesting reasons for judgement were recently published by the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia allowing a lawsuit to continue against a youth soccer coach based on allegations that she made a concussion worse by allowing an athlete to continue playing contrary to concussion protocols.

In the recent case (Rutt v. Meade) the Plaintiff was injured in a vehicle collision and sued for damages.  The alleged injuries included a concussion.

A few weeks after the crash the Plaintiff  played in a national soccer tournament for her club.

The Defendants in the car crash lawsuit brought a third party action against the soccer club and the coach arguing it was negligent to allow the Plaintiff to play soccer while she was still dealing with concussive injuries from the crash and that participation in sport was contrary to the established concussion protocols and this added to her prolonged injury.   The coach and club asked to be let out of the lawsuit arguing they could not be responsible for the concussion which was caused by the car crash.

In denying the application and allowing the third party claim to continue the Court noted that depending on how the facts play out a coach could be found legally liable in such circumstances.  In allowing the claim to proceed  Justice Gail L. Gatchalian provided the following reasons:

[2]            The plaintiff, Emily Dawn Rutt, was injured when the car she was in collided with a truck driven by Mr. Meade. She was fifteen years old at the time. Her litigation guardian filed a claim on her behalf against Mr. Meade and Synergy, claiming damages for injuries, including concussion symptoms.

[3]            Approximately three weeks after the accident, Ms. Rutt played in a national soccer tournament for her club, Valley United. Ms. Ramirez was her coach.

[4]            Mr. Meade and Synergy allege that Ms. Ramirez and Valley United were negligent in pressuring or allowing Ms. Rutt to play in the soccer tournament when she was still experiencing concussion symptoms from the accident. Mr. Meade and Synergy allege that Ms. Rutt’s participation in the soccer tournament impeded her recovery and aggravated her concussion symptoms.

[5]            With respect to the concussion symptoms that Ms. Rutt continued to suffer after the soccer tournament, Mr. Meade and Synergy say that Ms. Ramirez and Valley United are “concurrent tortfeasors” who would have been liable, had they been sued, for the “same damage” suffered by Ms. Rutt…

[31]         Therefore, if the ongoing concussion symptoms of Ms. Rutt allegedly caused by Ms. Ramirez and Valley United, on the one hand, and Mr. Meade and Synergy, on the other hand, are indivisible, in that it is impossible to determine which incident caused which damage, the material contribution test applies. If Mr. Meade and Synergy are found to have materially contributed to the damage, they may be held liable to Ms. Rutt for all of the damage. Mr. Meade and Synergy would then have a right to seek contribution and indemnity from Ms. Ramirez and Valley United.

[33]         The difficulty lies in determining whether the alleged consecutive tortious acts have caused damage to Ms. Rutt that is indivisible or divisible.

bc injury law, concussion, Concussion Protocol, negligence, Rutt v. Meade, Safe Return to Sport, Sports Law

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ERIK
MAGRAKEN

Personal Injury Lawyer

When not writing the BC Injury Law Blog, Erik is the managing partner at MacIsaac & Company, based in Victoria, B.C. He is also involved with combative sports regulatory issues and authors the Combat Sports Law Blog.

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