Suit Demanding Medical Personnel at All Soccer Games, Practices Thrown Out
18 May, 2015By: Tracey Schelmetic
Failed 'Soccer Mom Suit' Had Claimed Head Injuries Were at “Epidemic” Levels in Youth Soccer, Demanded Medical Personnel at All Games, Practices
A soccer mom has been thrown out of the game – or court, at least, after attempting to sue FIFA, U.S. Soccer and four national youth soccer organizations, demanding medical supervision of soccer events.
The lawsuit was thrown out by U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton in Oakland, California, who cited a lack of credible evidence. The lawsuit had sought to establish a medical monitoring program for players with concussions and head injuries as well as changes to "return to play" guidelines, changes in substitution rules and prohibitions against “heading” by players under the age of 17. The suit did not ask for monetary rewards but did demand that medical personnel be present for all games and practices.
Judge Hamilton called the claims “incomprehensible” before dismissing the case, according to the Web site, Soccer America Daily. The four youth clubs involved were U.S. Youth Soccer, U.S. Club Soccer, AYSO and the California Youth Soccer Association.
“It should be pretty clear to you all that I'm going to dismiss this complaint," said the judge. "I still, after more than three hours of discussion, have grave concerns about inconsistencies and contradictions and lack of clarity."
The case, Mehr v. Federation Internationale de Football Association, which became known as ‘the soccer mom lawsuit,’ was filed last year by parents and players who claimed concussions and other head injuries were at so-called ‘epidemic levels’ in youth soccer today. The suit alleged that researchers have found that “heading” a soccer ball to score or pass has been linked to brain injuries that can affect memory in amateur adult players, particularly when the damage from injuries accrue over time. The defendants’ attorneys disputed the plaintiff’s belief that head injuries were indeed an epidemic in youth soccer, citing a study that found that the concussion rate per 1,000 games or practices was 0.19 concussions for males and 0.33 percent for females.
The plaintiffs’ lawyer stated that he will refile the suit after taking the judge’s directives into consideration. Plaintiffs include ‘soccer mom’ and former youth soccer player Rachel Mehr, the parents of children who have played in youth leagues and Kira Akka-Seidel, a former club player at the University of California at Santa Cruz.
Soccer organizations aren’t the first to be targeted for such legislation. According to Bloomberg, similar suits have been lodged against the National Football League, National Hockey League and National Collegiate Athletic Association. The NFL has agreed to pay out upwards of $675 million to settle players’ suits. The NCAA has tentatively agreed to pay $70 million to cover the testing and diagnosis of student athletes, though that suit is currently being contested in Chicago federal court.
U.S. Youth Soccer and the American Youth Soccer Organization have a membership roster that includes over three million youth players in the U.S.