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Players sue high school coach, district for injuries, negligence

Six former high school football players and two parents have filed a lawsuit against the football coach and the school superintendent and the Marlboro Central School District in of Marlboro, a small town near Poughkeepsie. The coach was hired in 2010 and indeed carried the Marlboro Iron Dukes to victory but, according to the former students, that success was at an appalling cost. They claim the coach ordered them to “intentionally and improperly injure” opposing players he targeted.

Those orders were apparently carried out, if only out of fear. When Marlboro players lost the coach’s favor, he would force them to run laps for hours without breaks, made them play through serious injuries, used racial epithets against African-American players, and was openly violent toward them.

Worse, the former players claim, the abuse of both home- and opposing players was reported numerous times to the superintendent, but he ignored the complaints and renewed the abusive coach’s contract.

"[The coach] instructed his players to twist and break fingers and target the knees of opposing players with the purpose of injuring them," the complaint reads. In particular, four of the plaintiffs say that before a 2011 game against New Paltz, they heard the coach called out two prominent opposing players and ordered the team to injure them. He said he wanted the New Paltz team to “go out in body bags,” according to the lawsuit.

The former players and parents are seeking compensatory and punitive damages against the coach, superintendent and school district, along with ouster of the hard-driving coach. While this particular lawsuit seems focused mostly on removing a potentially dangerous individual from working with children, anyone injured through the negligence or intentional misconduct of a school official could also bring a premises liability claim.

Many people injured through wrongdoing come to law firms seeking justice -- not money. That’s important, because no one wants to leave others vulnerable to someone who could hurt a child. When a child of any age is injured enough to require medical care -- or when officials turn a blind eye to dangerous misconduct because it improves a high school’s football record, however, something is very wrong.  In such cases, the financial penalty of a premises liability or similar lawsuit may be the only leverage parents have to stop the abusive conduct.

Source: Courthouse News Service, “H.S. Football Coach Accused of Savage Behavior,” Jonathan Perlow, Dec. 6, 2013

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