Kid Hurts Knee in Little League — Parents Sue. Who Won?

Walter Olson runs a great, nay, mindblowing blog called overlawyered.com. The name says it all. He’s got great posts on everything from a suit against dolphin trainers (for teaching their dolphins to deliberately splash during a water show, making the area slippery) to a family suing Honda for $10 million because their car window blew out (in a tornado).  And here’s one of his latest:

12-year-old’s slide injury to cost Little League $125K
by Walter Olson on August 6, 2009

Staten Island, N.Y.: Little League Baseball Inc. and the New Springville Little League have agreed to pay $125,000 to settle Jean Gonzalez’s suit charging that negligent coaching and the use of a stationary base were responsible for her son Martin’s knee injury, incurred while sliding into second base. Two coaches were named personally in the lawsuit. “The defendants countered that Martin had been taught the proper sliding technique, and the bases used, detachable ‘Soft-Touch’ ‘pop-up’ bags, were compliant with all safety standards” and considered safer than the alternative design. The family’s lawyer was Alan C. Glassman of Brooklyn. [Staten Island Advance; our earlier coverage]

When will we remember that bruising and even the occasional broken bone are not evidence of negligence, they are evidence of childhood — of kids doing something other than sitting in the minvan on their way to their (indoor, supervised) playdate? And now what happens to Little League? Are they going to outlaw sliding? Running? Speed-walking — because a kid COULD get hurt and they don’t want to get sued again?

Maybe from now on kids can crawl from base to base. Yes! The new American pastime: Basecrawl. — Lenore

52 Responses

  1. Ya know, all the lawyer jokes in the world have a basis in suits like this.

    Shame on the parents.

  2. I can’t be the only parent who actively wants their kid to get injured someday.

    I was overly cautious as a child, and missed out on some adventures because of it. I also never had a broken bone or serious injury.

    I hope my kid is more adventurous, more confidant, and if that means a broken arm or leg, that’s fine.

  3. I feel bad for that kid, because even if he wants to play Little League again (any sport for that matter), there’s not going to be a team in the entire area that’s going to touch him.

  4. Forgot to add as well, that I agree with all of the comments posted in the original article – if I were a volunteer taking my time and effort to coach LL, I’d pull out because of this. Who suffers? The kids, of course.

  5. See, here’s what I don’t get. We all agree this is ridiculous. Ridiculous on its face. So ridiculous that there’s no way a majority of jury of 12 people would find in favor of the parent who’s suing.

    So why does Little League settle? Out of the goodness of their hearts? They clearly see a risk of losing, and if they are worried they can’t convince a jury that it’s as ridiculous as it appears ont its face, perhaps it’s not so ridiculous after all. Maybe the coach didn’t bother teaching the kids how to slide. Maybe the bases were the wrong type. Here overlawyered takes Little League’s claim that everything was done properly at face value, without supposing that maybe they were using equipment that wasn’t appropriate for twelve-year old kids, or that the coach was negligent in doing his job. Note that the article says that when the case was filed, “some lawyers not involved, believed the Gonzalezes didn’t have a strong case.” If Little League went through two years of pretrial before finally settling, maybe there was something to the case after all.

    I enjoy this website and I try to follow the free-range precepts as much as I can, but sometimes all this focus on isolated incidents where parents seem overprotective lack an appreciation of the fact that there might be some context which people are missing.

    There’s also some lack of sympathy for the family and the kid, who suffered a torn ligament meniscus and has had two surgeries since the accident. Not a great thing for a 12-year-old to go through.

  6. or maybe Little League just couldn’t afford to shell out more time & money on attorneys.

    I hope the league plans on replacing those dangerous hard balls with Nerf’s.

  7. The most upsetting thing is the parents sued the VOLUNTEER coaches. Parents rely on dedicated volunteers, let me remind them the volunteers do things with their kids without getting paid, things the parents are not willing to do with their kids, and the parents CHOSE to enroll their kids in Little League. That is the most shameful of all, suing the volunteer coaches.

  8. Someone needs to do something about our litigious society.

    And that’s been TOTALLY left out of the health care bill.

    Appalling.

  9. Here’s what I think every time I see a story like this one:

    I wonder if that family had health insurance? I wonder if the kid injured his knee badly enough to need surgery they couldn’t afford? I wonder if I would sue the Little League, if I was facing a choice between leaving my kid’s injuries untreated and losing my home?

    I mean, I don’t know that that’s what happened in this case. But it’s what I always wonder about.

    I bet a lot of America’s sue-happy culture will go away when everyone has health care and a broken collarbone doesn’t mean risking bankruptcy anymore.

  10. @Geoff There’s also some lack of sympathy for the family and the kid, who suffered a torn ligament meniscus and has had two surgeries since the accident. Not a great thing for a 12-year-old to go through.

    No–that really sucks. I tore my meniscus in HS in a mountain biking accident (in which I laid open my whole knee and pretty much destroyed it.) But I didn’t sue the makers of the bike company or the county (I slipped on a patch of wet gravel when I took a downhill corner on a county road too quickly) or my school for not providing free busing so that I had to ride my bike 8 miles one way.

    Also, maybe this is presumptuous of me, but I wonder how much this kid was playing baseball that he tore a meniscus from sliding into base. I’m a teacher, and I see more and more kids with sports injuries at a younger age caused by repetitive stress from specializing in one sport. Baseball’s no longer a summer thing anymore–there’s spring baseball, summer traveling teams, and stuff well into the fall as well. Softball is the same for girls, and I’ve seen it with club soccer and swimming (which is a year-round sport!)

    Kids are kids–they don’t need to be mimicking the pros.

  11. @Evan Very good point.

  12. Actually, there are times when I’d like to see Little League and other “organized” sports for kids simply shut down. It’s more work for parents to schedule them, get to games and practices (and you’re a bad parent if you don’t got to the practices), and don’t forget to sell those over-priced wrapping paper and stale popcorn fund raisers. Ugh.

    For ten years my life pretty much revolved around Midget Football, Junior Soccer, and local basketball tournaments – not as a participant, but because of the flak I would get if I didn’t show up “to support the kids.”

    When I explained that I played baseball in empty fields with my neighborhood friends, all without any parents to supervise, everybody proclaimed that “you can’t do that anymore.” Sheesh. Let your damn kids off the leash and send them outside to play once in a while.

  13. ‘detachable ‘Soft-Touch’ ‘pop-up’ bags’? Really? But maybe they weren’t REALLY using the proper bases. And maybe they didn’t REALLY teach the kid to slide properly. And maybe if the kid had been playing sandlot baseball 40 years ago instead of every single sport being organized, the parents wouldn’t have had anyone to sue, or even considered suing because they would have realized that injuries are part of childhood.

    Maybe the parents are uninsured. It happens to be true that if you can not pay, hospitals can not refuse proper treatment. Without universal, bureaucrat-regulated health care. Hospitals will also work with a family to arrange financing, often at a reduced price and low interest rate- they’d rather get paid less than get paid nothing. This is NOT a reason to sue people who volunteer to enrich children’s lives.

    What will happen to Little League indeed? I predict paperwork- reams and reams of legal release forms and insurance verification. ‘Little League will not be held responsible for any injury or death incurred…etc, etc’ and ‘Sorry, kiddo. You can’t play ball here, you’re not properly insured.’ On the one hand, that’s sad for any lower-income little leaguers who already play or want to play. On the other, maybe kids will find a place for a pick-up game, instead. Bring on the sandlots.

  14. Yes, of course it’s terrible that this injury was severe enough to require two surgeries. Yes, it’s terrible that volunteer coaches were personally named. Yes, none of us have all the information on what actually happened or why Little League decided to settle.

    There is ALWAYS more to a story than the headlines or news reports communicate.

    However, these individual incidents aren’t really the subject focus. Of course we can’t really comment on what happened, because we don’t really know. But we can take a macro look at the cumulative effects of these types of lawsuits have: They make us all more fearful and less willing to take normal risks.

    Being an educated, attentive, and aware consumer (from cars to kids ballet classes or baseball teams) isn’t going to protect us from everything, but it makes us responsible for our choices. Nothing will make everything safe, but people need to accept responsibility for their choices.

    I sprained my ankle terribly in a step-aerobics class once about 15 years ago. The gym was scared stiff I was going to sue them and the instructor. No one did anything wrong, I let my mind wander and wasn’t paying proper attention. I didn’t sue.

    Let’s suppose for a moment that the family in this story sued because they don’t have insurance and couldn’t afford the surgeries required to treat the injury. Then there is STILL a serious problem in this story that warrants examination. In this case, the problem is not the Little League’s fault so why are they paying?

  15. Just this summer at the lake we visit in NJ every year – the lake I grew up on – the lake my dad swam in as a kid in the 1930s – they shut down the high dive. For 80 years the high dive has been up. No deaths. A few minor injuries but nothing major. This year the insurance company said “shut it down or we cancel your policy.” So, they shut it down. My kids and I went the last day for a few final jumps of freedom. We were all crushed as it was such a part of our summer fun.

  16. I’m feeling the same outrage that all of you are feeling AND YET Geoff brings up some really important points that often get lost in this sort of conversation. The issue has become pretty personal for me, as my son was badly injured a year ago and my wife and I found ourselves the target of a great deal of public ridicule when we filed a lawsuit.

    I don’t want to go into our particulars, but I’ve got to stress that money was never our prime motivation. We just never wanted another child, another family, to go through what we did, and money definitely talks in the corporate world when ethics alone seem not to. If you’ve seen the movie Fight Club, you’ll remember that Edward Norton’s character was responsible for helping car companies decide whether or not to issue a recall in the case of a product defect–if the dollar cost of a recall was greater than the potential payout for lawsuits, the company would sit on the problem, irregardless of the harm to consumers. In our case, we felt like “If that’s the game they’re going to play, then we really have no choice but to play it.” It felt like the ethical thing to do, even though we were uncomfortable about it and don’t AT ALL consider ourselves to be the litigious type.

    As we agonized over the decision, we kept thinking about the whole “McDonalds hot coffee” frivolous lawsuit and how we didn’t want to be like those people. But now that I’ve learned more about that particular case I’ve come to realize how the facts turn out to be not nearly as ridiculous as the typical talk-radio sound bite makes them out to be (McDonalds had received more than 700 reports of similar accidents and still did not reevaluate their practices) and that the people who filed suit were quite courageous for doing so.

    Anyway, my gut level reaction is the same outrage that many of you are expressing (they sued LITTLE LEAGUE because a kid got hurt playing sports?!) but Geoff is exactly right that we may be missing some important context here.

    Lenore, I too love your blog and I’m a proud free-range parent, but the cautionary point about seizing on isolated incidents and drawing conclusions without understanding context should be useful ballast for all of us in today’s media environment.

  17. Elizabeth and Bernadette added comments while I was composing that are also, in their own way, spot on. We had serious misgivings about being part of the cumulative effect of a litigious society, the kind of society that gets high-dives taken away from the local swimming hole. I still feel uneasy about that.

  18. I’ll echo a comment by another Evan on this thread – if the parents didn’t have have health coverage maybe they had no choice but to sue or go into massive debt.

    I live in Canada – this suit would have been tossed out by a magistrate almost immediately if you could even get a lawyer to try. Why you ask? The parents would have no ‘loss’. Their health care for their son would have cost them NOTHING and the Canadian system doesn’t allow for punitive damages as much if at all.

    And for those of you with doubts about the care – yes they might possibly have had to wait a few weeks if serious surgery was required but my experience is that the Canadian system pays particular attention to kids – I’ve never had issues with my son and I’ve had him in the system several times for a congenital problem.

  19. Planing a came that is totally safe is like play a baseball came without keeping score because we are all winners. It’s not worth playing. As a kid I played to win and the change of an injury added to the came. It gave you crediblity among your friends. Parents like these take the fun out of being a kid. When I broke my arm playing in the yard with my cousin everyone said to me that now I was a really boy because boys brake limbs and have scares. I survived childhood fine. Lighten up already it only a game and the body heals.

  20. Canada doesn’t allow recovery for pain and suffering, Evan? The parents might not have had to pay for medical care, but I think it’s stretching to say that there were no damages.

    And there’s a reason for suing the volunteer coaches, too. If you don’t, the Little League has a strong motivation to just blame everything on the coaches to avoid liability. If you sue them all and you end up with joint and several liability of the Little League and the coaches, the Little League will end up paying all of it, because no one in their right mind would start by trying to collect from the coaches when there’s a big organization with deep pockets involved.

  21. Sure, there might be something to this particular lawsuit–facts we don’t know, etc–maybe this particular one is valid. But the overall point is that we are drowning in frivolous lawsuits and they are doing a tremendous, tremendous amount of harm.

    A jury is faced with a very distraught mother whose child was injured on the one hand, and an evil faceless huge money-grubbing corporation on the other hand. Regardless of the facts, the jury wants to side with the human beings.

    A lawyer sees an opportunity to sue for millions and keep most of it for himself, so he urges the lawsuit whether it has merit or not.

    And so we wind up in the situation we are in.

    I was in a car accident last year. It was the other guy’s fault. No one was hurt in the slightest, he admitted it was his fault, and his insurance bought me a new car. All good, right? Then I got–literally–*dozens* of letters from lawyers, offering to help me sue for more. They have everything to gain and nothing to lose.

    And the result of all these lawsuits? They do tremendous harm that the jury never sees. They jack up the cost of everything, especially health care, because of the huge cost of malpractice insurance. Worse, they make everything that might possibly result in a lawsuit, forbidden. My brother recently observed that in Germany, there are cool things for kids to play with all over the sidewalks–just cool, creative playground equipment–he had a great time there with his kids. But, he noted, you could never put that stuff up in the US, because someone somewhere would slip, and fall, and sue. Because, well, why not?

  22. A boy I went to high school with was allowed to play football even though he was too young because his parents insisted on it. When he was injured, the parents sued claiming the school shouldn’t have allowed him to play. I can’t even remember the outcome now (it’s been 20 years), but I remember thinking how wrong that was.

    If it’s not already the case, parents of any kid playing sports should be required to have private insurance (or sign a waiver) and should have to agree not to sue in case of injury.

  23. Ashely, you’re not the only one. I was an overly cautious child well into my teens, if my kids end up more adventurous I’ll be thrilled.

    Noelley, I hope organised sports NEVER require parents to either buy insurance or waive their right to sue. The first would all but shut down sporting for lower income children and the second takes away the right of parents to seek reimbursement for actual negligence or abuse. There are always going to be people who try to take advantage of others, let’s not make that worse by hurting kids who just want to play a game.

  24. It’s true, these parents may not have had the money to pay for the medical bills, thus sued… but this litigious society is one that stems from far more than just getting money.

    It’s been pointed out by previous posters that companies will not always change unless they are forced to change. That is absolutely true, but it should not be a doorway for everyone who can shout “lawyer” to jump on every little thing… too many people see lawsuits as a way to money… big money. After all, “the company can afford it.”

    The way it works in our health care system, we allow salespeople for medical technologies and medicines into hospitals and clinics to sell the latest, greatest technology. The doctors like it, the board considers the pros and cons, the accountants make the appropriate adjustments, and boom – new xray machine. The cost of the new xray machine is generously passed on the consumers – you and me (because we’re not patients… we’re customers). The hospital knows it can charge x amount for the xrays because most people are covered by some sort of insurance and the insurance companies will pay what the doctors ask (and most cases, for unusual care, insurance will pay out of your yearly allowance… so xrays for 900 bucks and your yearly is 2700 but you pay 10%? You pay 90 bucks, the hospital pockets all the excess from the insurance company). When Billy walks in with no insurance, the hospital will NOT give him a break because if they give Billy a break for not being insured, all the rest of us would drop insurance to only pay 200 bucks for the xrays instead of 900… costing our hospital 700 bucks. They tell Billy they’ll give him a payment plan, and Billy is in debt and potentially can’t pay 900 over the course of a year because he has a family of 4 and a minimum wage job. The spiral doesn’t end in this system, and it’s all thanks to allowing free-market into the health-care system when this is the ONE place it should NOT be permitted. (Why else do you think we have doctors coming to our country to practice medicine? Our doctors are rich – even with the risk of malpractice.)

    Case in point: East Germany… the minute they let capitalism walk into the health care industry – people selling hospitals “new and better” stuff, hospitals and clinics had to raise the cost of care… where are they now? The same place we are… with many people unable to afford the luxury cost of being well.

  25. As a volunteer coach and administrator in a youth sports program, I find this case incredibly concerning. A few things come to mind:

    1) if I did not feel that the equipment and/or overall operation of an organization my child was involved with were safe, I’d organize my thoughts about WHY, and bring that information to the leaders of the group, and find out what I could do to help improve the situation.

    2) if that were unsuccessful, I would have the option of unenrolling my child. Not that I think little league isn’t safe… but we do all have the right NOT to allow our kids to do things that we believe pose unnecessary risks. This family decided that the risk of playing baseball, even with those bases (which they decided after the fact were unsafe) and with her son’s sliding technique, was a reasonable level of risk and they allowed him to play.

    3) If the volunteer coach was the problem, and wasn’t teaching the kids proper technique, or wasn’t successfully developing their abilities… rather than complaining about the coach (or suing him), why didn’t the parents step up and volunteer to coach the team, or to assistant coach? And if they want to have more say over WHO is selected to coach teams, volunteer to put in the extraordinary amount of time that the volunteer board of directors for these groups put in over the course of the year to provide these opportunities for OUR kids.

    I have been fortunate that my efforts appear to be mostly appreciated. I do work hard, and I do the best I can to make soccer a good experience for the kids. But when I make a mistake (and I’m not assuming that the Little League coach or organization made a mistake, only that it’s *possible*), I kind of expect people to understand that we’re all volunteers, doing the best we can and balancing the time we give with the other responsibilities in life.

    What if the kid wasn’t yet taught perfect sliding technique? What if the coach *thought* they had been taught properly, but as it turns out there was some critical thing that he didn’t know or had missed? It’s not a full-time paying job, maybe he doesn’t spend all of his time away from the field researching the best ways to teach kids to play baseball – maybe he puts together a rough practice plan on his lunch break and rushes from work to practice and games, then when they get home he spends his limited free time with his family instead of continually looking for ways to make himself a better coach. So what?!

    I do feel for the kid, because a serious injury is hard to endure at any age but somehow it’s just more heartbreaking when it happens to a child. My friend’s daughter tore her ACL and needed surgery, rehab, etc playing soccer. No lawsuit was involved. Lots of tears, lots of pain, lots of mental anguist for the parents… but no legal battle. The kid went back to playing a year later.

  26. Cases like this are (to me, at least) indicative of a deeper social problem. At some point in the last few decades we, as a group, have determined that whenever someone gets hurt, especially a child, someone is responsible and should pay. We are preoccupied with blame.

    I don’t know why it is, but I think it might be connected to the media in the same way Lenore believes 24/7 cable coverage of child safety issues are making us hyper-paranoid. I think this is a more subtle change: we’re used to seeing stories on television that have a plot resolution. The bad guy gets caught, and the person responsible is made to pay. It makes good fiction because the world doesn’t always work like that–we’ve seen so much of it that we want to mold the real world to reflect that fantasy, at any cost.

    So when a child gets hurt we want someone to pay for it. Does anyone really think these lawsuits would have gone forward if it were 1979 instead of 2009? I wonder why not. Kids got hurt back then too, and kids have been getting hurt playing… well, forever. I think we’ve just become a lot less willing to accept the fact that sometimes bad things happen for no reason.

    I hope this kid makes a full recovery, but his parents have already set him up for failure. His life is now an object lesson in how if you get hurt you are entitled to compensation from someone. Anyone. It doesn’t matter who pays, as long as someone pays. And he’s not alone: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frivolous_litigation

  27. Randy said: At some point in the last few decades we, as a group, have determined that whenever someone gets hurt, especially a child, someone is responsible and should pay. We are preoccupied with blame.

    BAM. I think this is spot-on.

  28. @Ashley Actually, you don’t even have to get injured. I was free-range, back in the 70s, as basically all German kids of that type were.

    And even though I did all the usuall stuff – mud fights, building forts with hammer and nails, goinh to boy scout camps in faraway countries like “Switzerland” and “The Netherlands”, being expected to make a three day tour on our own at the age of 12-14, etc – nothing ever happened. Oh, strike stat. I lost a front teeth while goofing around and while I really should look to get a better matching implant these days, stuff like that just happened and nobody got sued.

    I’m not saying that there shouldn’t be any lawsuits – but it should stay reasonable. When I went to the icering and got run over and woke up in the infirmary, the general consensus was that it was our fault, because at my level, I shouldn’t have been there.

    But all this was just minor stuff. The worst that ever happend to me happened at home, under the watchful eyes of my parents. And yes, that wasn’t their fault either and it wasn’t my fault, too, because those had been accidents which couldn’t have been prevented by any reasonable means.

  29. @Randy it’s the just-universe fallacy. If something bad happens, it has to be someones fault. And since the parents certainly don’t want to blame themselves or the kid, there must’ve been somebody else at fault.

    Though your observartions are very keen – the idea that everything has a plot, a resolution and good and and bad protagonists as shown on TV is probably linked to the “just world fallacy”. After all, in those cases – and sometimes I think people are, apart from work, more exposed to made-up stories than to real life – someone provided a plot and a resolution and punished the bad guy at the end.

  30. Michelle, I am sure the parents will sue any sports team or organization that refuses to admit their child because of the earlier Litlle League suit. Then they will sue if the coach tries to play it safe and keep their child safely on the bench. Little League may eventually become thing of the past remembered by oldsters.

    Worry about the child learning that if he chooses to play a rough sport and gets hurt, then someone else is at fault and owes him big bucks. He may be on a team, but still a bit of an outsider to an anious team and that will be sad for him. He will be seen as a potential liability which is not good for building his selfconcept.

    I really like Peter’s term “just-universe fallacy.” I hadn’t heard it before and it really makes sense to me (if no one else). thanks Peter.

  31. […] Kid Hurts Knee in Little League — Parents Sue. Who Won? « FreeRangeKids – Holy Moley. I think we better just get rid of Little League — those swinging bats and flying balls could HURT SOMEONE. Yeesh. […]

  32. @harmil It’s really not my own term. It’s an old concept.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Just-world_phenomenon

  33. My kids don’t play baseball or softball but I know that our hockey league covers any injuries incurred as a result of playing. We pay $30 (a year) to register with USA Hockey and then we have insurance. Maybe other sports should look into this option if they feel the lack of health insurance is the reason they are being sued.

  34. @Noelley – I’m sure they did sign a waiver. I don’t know of many organisations that don’t have them. They just found a lawyer who was able to find a way around it.

  35. I have to sign a waiver for practically EVERYTHING my kids do. Even the drop off play area at the gym we go to. I am surprised this was settled since the parents would have had to sign a waiver for their son to be able to play.

  36. I’m glad we have ACC. And OSH. If you have an accident it is recorded, looked at, investigated if necessary and a fine is levied if guilt is found. You are only involved for most stuff in that you fill out a form telling how, where and when it happened and all treatment is free.

    It is funded by business and sports group levies at an adjustable rate depending on the dangers of the occupation you are in along with the fines from investigations. You will not be fined for anything as a person – that is reserved for employers and organisations. As a self employed person I pay about $NZ150 per year.

    For this system, we gave up the right to sue as individuals but it is well worth it as it put a complete stop to the litigation industry.

    viv in nz

  37. I work for an insurance company that insures a lot of small childcare centers, and I’ve seen some of the most ridiculous (in my opinion) claims come in from terminally greedy parents. I’ve seen claims where one toddler bit another while in a room with sufficient supervision, leaving absolutely no visible marks, yet the parents are out for blood from the day care owners. Come on, people…this is not lawsuit-worthy, this is what happens when you put several little kids together in a confined space and give them toys that they are supposed to share, when they haven’t quite figured out what the concept of sharing means. I don’t think I could live with myself if I gave serious thought to suing someone over something that trivial.

    I have a scar in the corner of my mouth that dates back to my own preschool days. I was pushing my friend on the swings at a playground (which my class had to–gasp!–WALK more than two blocks to reach) when someone called my name. I turned my head, and the swing slammed into my face. Did my parents sue the preschool for not providing adequate supervision, thus preventing me from ever needing those two or three stitches? Nope. As soon as my mom got over having watched the doctor as he sewed up my split lip, they chalked it up to childhood.

    When I reached elementary school, I learned to hate the jungle gym after slipping off and hitting the back of my head on one of the bars. Did my parents sue the school because they’d negligently allowed me to play on unsafe equipment? (Which, by the way, was on a playground completely devoid of mulch or other padding agents…50% concrete and 50% grass over hard-packed dirt.) Nope! Mom put some ice cubes in a plastic baggie and told me to hold it on the huge bump that had developed, and chalked it up to childhood.

    One day when my daughter was learning to crawl, I arrived at my dad’s house after work to pick her up, only to find my stepmother hugging her and crying all over the place, apologizing through her tears. Why? Because the baby had pulled their dog’s tail, and the dog had turned around and nipped at her, leaving a small scratch on her forehead. My stepmother was terrified that I would refuse to let her babysit her granddaughter anymore because of it. Now, this is not a vicious dog…she just doesn’t appreciate having her appendages yanked on. I can’t say I’d like it much either, if I were in her place. Needless to say, I did much as my mom had done when I came home with minor injuries…cleaned up the boo-boo, kissed it better, and chalked it up to childhood.

    (And my kid–now about to turn 2–still hasn’t learned to stop harassing that poor dog.)

  38. I was at a party where the kids were having a waterfight. One kid got water from the hotwater dispenser and tossed it on another kid. The kid went to the ER and sent home with burn cream.

    The next day the father or the kid who threw it, who also owned the home where it happened, went to the victims house with a 6 pack of beer asking the other father to sue the home owners insurance. Then, with all that money, the two families could go to Hawaii together.

    We are no longer friends with either family.

  39. @Geoff

    The Little League settles because it knows it will spend more than $125,000 to successfully defend themselves in court against the charges.

    It’s part of the whole racket.

  40. Shame on the mom, shame on the lawyer, shame on the Little League. And shame on all of us. Our society is responsible for this, and thus, the members of that society are all responsible – all of us. I feel very sorry for all of the boys who will undoubtedly lose a ‘beloved coach’ because of this, or at the very least have his volunteer time curtailed by the court fight, taking up his time that he would have spent with those kids.
    I am a volunteer with the Scouts, as is my husband. We do risky things all the time (and encourage it, too!) . I quit teaching because of helicopter moms and the nanny-administration in the schools. It is likely only time before it overcomes all volunteers, driven by the lawsuits.
    I grieve for the loss of childhood experiences that our sons and daughters have experienced. We are raising a nation of infants. Hard knocks and scars are part of growing up. And without them, they are not growing up. My husband, a university professor, says that his current students are the biggest bunch of crybaby spoiled brats that he has ever seen.
    Each one of us has an obligation to our society to do all that we can to try to counter this self-imposed victimization before it destroys us as a society.
    Last year I read (with horror and complete agreement) the Last Child in the Woods by Louv. I have since then given 5 copies of the book to significant friends (folks that have much influence at schools, PTAs, etc). Nearly daily I mention this blog or refer to things that I read on it. And I gently point out to friends (who are sending their babies off to college) that they need to let their children go and grow up.
    I also write letters to the media, and post comments in support of parents who let their kids be free-range, and in opposition to those who want to victimize our children by wrapping them in bubblewrap. .
    Hopefully this will help the grass-roots reversal of the trend. And I will do my best to put fire and knives within reach of every boy that I can! And as a trainer of adult leaders in Scouts, I have lots of opportunity to do that!
    George Carlin said “The kid who eats too many marbles doesn’t grow up to have kids of his own.”
    We need to get our hands off, train them to “Do Right” and trust them, and tell others to do the same.

  41. Maybe from now on kids can crawl from base to base. Yes! The new American pastime: Basecrawl.

    What, and DIRTY their CLOTHES? Are you INSANE? Do you KNOW how HARD it IS to get DIRT out of CLOTHING? You might as well have them make MUD PIES or jump in MUD PUDDLES or sit on the GRASS!

  42. […] we had without going nuts with worry”), and yesterday she returned the favor with some more than kind words about this site (”great, nay mindblowing”) and a discussion of our recent post […]

  43. Two things come to mind in reading this:
    Greed–some parents see any injury as a windfall to get money through legal proceedings. We see this all the time in the toy industry. The whole process is shocking to be sure, but deeper down, what does that say about the parenting involved? “Johnny got a boo-boo. Let’s see if we can turn him into an ATM!” The exploitive nature of this is to me the most horrifying of all.

    Assumption of Risk–Even at the youngest ages, this should apply. That was what the defense in this case argued, and it should have been sufficient. But as anyone who’s been through the legal meat grinder knows, with kids sometimes emotion trumps fact or even principle.

    Where children are too young to assume the risk, parents can do it for them. Any team should have a release form that clearly states this.

    My heart goes out to the many adult coaches who donate their time, energy and passion to helping kids and have to deal with the threat of this kind of thing always in the background. I know it sounds insane to have to have release forms for children to play baseball, but so be it. If parents won’t sign the release, their kids can’t play–and let them deal with that in the family.

    On a personal note, I can remember playing sports and breaking my hand in three places. I was treated, of course, and my hand is fine now, but the coach’s advice (as he got the doctor) was, “Walk it off.” At age 12, taking my injury “like a man” and having the badge of a cast to prove that I had truly thrown myself into the game really meant something not just to me, but it earned me the respect of classmates.

    It’s a hard call. No one wants their child hurt, but if you play sports injuries of all kinds are a real and present risk. It should be up to the parents to determine the acceptable level of risk for their kids before they get involved–and deal with the consequences of those choices.

    Of course, there is the prevalent notion that we want all the benefits of something and shouldn’t have the consequences. Sorry, life doesn’t work that way.

  44. Maybe I’m misreading the comments by Evan, et al, but inability of the injured party to pay is NOT grounds for a lawsuit. You have to prove fault or negligence on the part of the other party. As others have said, we don’t know for sure whether their was negligence in this case, but you also assume risk in any sport, and I personally doubt the LL people could really be considered negligent.

    And as was also mentioned, hospitals have payment plans, etc. And people do fundraisers. If a person lives anywhere with a sense of community, I’ll bet they could get this taken care of. And it’s not as if the child won’t get treated, they’ll just have debt.

    Also, kudos to pyromomma. Right on.

  45. At the preschool where I work, we’re constantly holding our breath and awaiting a lawsuit every time a child gets a scrape. After we got sued following an incident where one child scratched another on the face, the Dept. of Social Services told us that we had to contact a parent every time their child got a bump, scratch, or cut. With 24 students under the age of 6, you can imagine how much time I spend on the phone and documenting bumps, nicks, and scratches! It’s pathetic, and it makes the children think that each little bump is an incident to be alarmed about! Awful, just awful…

  46. […] Kid Hurts Knee in Little League â?? Parents Sue. Who Won … […]

  47. Ashley: “I also never had a broken bone or serious injury.”

    I broke my collarbone when I was four but that was when playing inside.

  48. Ah, the safe inside.🙂 That’s where I jumped over a set of cushions and bit through my lower lips – from the inside. I still have the scars where my lower incissor extruded and a memory of raw flesh and blood without end.

    Damn.. I just realized, we should’ve sued the furniture store. There were no “don’t jump wildly over this” labels on the cushions!

  49. Hi, could you please post about radical games? I wrote about X-Games..my friend told me that it’s make a bad effect to kids…do u agree with him? thanks.

  50. Someone needs to do something about our litigious society.

    And that’s been TOTALLY left out of the health care bill.

    Appalling.

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