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Old Sat Feb 04, 2006, 11:06am
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I read this morning about a Mom coming on the court during a rec game, grabbing a player and shaking him because she thought he fouled her boy. A trooper happened to be attending the game and took care of business. Not much home/game management for a rec game, but it brings to mind the liability question concerning the refs. In our litigeous society, who know what this woman might claim? Do you folks carry some sort of insurance in case of lawsuits? If so, who carries it, and what kind of coverage do we need? What's is cost?
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Old Sat Feb 04, 2006, 11:09am
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Quote:
Originally posted by Chris Whitten
I read this morning about a Mom coming on the court during a rec game, grabbing a player and shaking him because she thought he fouled her boy. A trooper happened to be attending the game and took care of business. Not much home/game management for a rec game, but it brings to mind the liability question concerning the refs. In our litigeous society, who know what this woman might claim? Do you folks carry some sort of insurance in case of lawsuits? If so, who carries it, and what kind of coverage do we need? What's is cost?
Most of us are insured through our state high school athletic association. The cost is actually pretty low, which usually leads me to believe that there are very few claims made against officials. If you are only charging someone $20/yr for $1 million in coverage, I doubt you are planning to cover many claims.
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Old Sat Feb 04, 2006, 05:50pm
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Someone's gonna get hurt out there

I have my liability insurance through NASO. But as a lawyer for 28 years, I'll be the first to admit that we live in a litigious society. Here's what happens a lot and how I recently handled it. Very rough freshmen boys game, my partner and I had over 20 fouls by middle of the 2nd quarter and the game was not cleaning up. As I am moving past one of the coaches as the ball went in transition, he said to me "You know, someone's gonna get hurt out there." The ball was doing nothing so I blew my whistle and stopped play, called my partner over, conferenced with both coaches and asked him what he meant by that. He said you guys are not calling anything and it's getting rough. I said "Coach, we got 20-something fouls, both teams are in double bonus, and if the game's not cleaning up, that's coaching, not officiating." I then asked him if he wanted to pull his players off the court rather than risk injury to his players, as he feared. Guess what, he said no, let's keep playing.

I'm sorry, friends, but I can't stand that kind of attempt to place the blame on the officials in case something happens. God forbid some kid did get hurt, break a finger or worse, and you know the first thing that would be said is, "Well, we told the refs this was going to happen and they didn't do anything about it." When parents say it, I ignore it because that's just parental ignorance, but I'm not letting some coach set me up for a law suit in those circumstances. I don't handle personal injury claims anymore because now I am a personal injury arbitrator, but agree with me or not, I've seen what happens. Even if you eventually win the case, you just went through 2-4 years of litigation, sleepless nights, aggravation, time, money, etc. And you heard this from a lawyer.
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Old Sat Feb 04, 2006, 09:23pm
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Council: Can you site a case where the official (basketball) was held accountable for an injury during a high school basketball contest?
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Old Sat Feb 04, 2006, 09:33pm
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No. In New Jersey, where I practice, we have statutes that protect referees from such claims. To my knowledge, many states have similar statutes, and the number is increasing. But keep in mind, that does not stop a creative lawyer from asserting a claim, even for a nuisance value. Don't forget, if there's insurance, the ground rule is (at least to some less than ethical lawyers), throw as much against the wall and see what sticks. And the insurance companies often don't want to litigate these claims because they are afraid of a renegade jury verdict. So they will settle even if the liability aspect is weak. Ask anyone who has ever been the subject of litigation, even if frivolous, and they will tell you that peace of mind has a value.
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Old Sat Feb 11, 2006, 03:30pm
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There's a much greater chance that you will be assaulted then sued. While state tort laws differ, the chances a sports official can be held liable for anything other than an intentional or grossly negligent act are very small.

We talked about this at our association meeting several weeks ago. Don't get involved in an injured player sitaution -- just bekon the coach/trainer and anyone else they believe they need, and get the other players away from there. Don't treat a player and by all means don't interfere with treatment.

Unless you let a player play with obviously illegal equipment (studed jewlery comes to mind), there isn't much legally that one can do to a sports official.
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Old Sat Feb 11, 2006, 03:44pm
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Quote:
Originally posted by robertclasalle
No. In New Jersey, where I practice, we have statutes that protect referees from such claims. To my knowledge, many states have similar statutes, and the number is increasing. But keep in mind, that does not stop a creative lawyer from asserting a claim, even for a nuisance value. Don't forget, if there's insurance, the ground rule is (at least to some less than ethical lawyers), throw as much against the wall and see what sticks. And the insurance companies often don't want to litigate these claims because they are afraid of a renegade jury verdict. So they will settle even if the liability aspect is weak. Ask anyone who has ever been the subject of litigation, even if frivolous, and they will tell you that peace of mind has a value.
I was able to find more than 80 citations where an official was involved in some claim - I only looked at 6 of them at all carefully, and some of those involved appeals and were sent back to lower courts.

It does happen. Your characterization of the circumstances strikes me as really right-on. Anybody can sue anybody for anything - and the nuisance factor can be awful. I buy the NASO insurance.
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Old Sat Feb 11, 2006, 08:09pm
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Quote:
Originally posted by Ref Daddy
Council: Can you site a case where the official (basketball) was held accountable for an injury during a high school basketball contest?
Where's Tim C when he's needed? He's the "expert" on officials' liability.
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Old Sun Feb 12, 2006, 09:41am
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Quote:
Originally posted by rainmaker
Quote:
Originally posted by Ref Daddy
Council: Can you site a case where the official (basketball) was held accountable for an injury during a high school basketball contest?
Where's Tim C when he's needed? He's the "expert" on officials' liability.
Oh man, was that thread a whole lot of laughs or what?
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