Heads up! Concussion in Youth Sports: 2012-13 Case Topic
More than seventy student teams across North Carolina are hard at work preparing to argue the case of Mia Donovan v. Shannon Dempsey, Jordan Reddick, and Rubicon Soccer Club, Inc. Written as an original case for our competition, it focuses on a youth soccer player, Mia Donovan, who suffered debilitating injuries after sustaining multiple concussions on a youth soccer team. Mia's single parent, Casey Donovan, has filed a civil negligence suit against Rubicon Soccer Club, Club Director Jordan Reddick, and Mia's club soccer coach Shannon Dempsey. Additional witnesses for the plaintiff include researcher Dr. Bevin Register and Mia's school soccer coach Tobin O'Reilly; the defense team will call the co-defendants as well as Mia's friend and fellow student Chris Durant.
While fictional, the case draws upon actual North Carolina law and current research in the field, exposing mock trial students to a topic that is interesting, timely, and important. In September, the News and Observer discussed the changes to high school football practices and new requirements placed upon schools following the deaths of two N.C. high school football players due to concussions in 2008. (Links to several articles can be found on our website at http://ncmocktrial.org/resources/other-resources). Much research into the prevention and rehabilitation of concussion injuries is conducted at the Gfeller Sport-Related Traumatic Brain Injury Research Center at UNC, which I had the privilege of touring while writing the competition case. The Center conducts research and provides pre- and post-concussion evaluations for athletes at UNC and for youth, middle school, and high school student-athletes (http://tbicenter.unc.edu/MAG_Center/Home.html).
Most concussions leave no lasting ill effects if the athlete is given sufficient time to rest and heal before engaging in contact sports again. But unrecognized injuries can lead to long-term, serious injuries if the athletes are returned to play too soon, prompting legal action in some cases. The August 2012 issue of Trial magazine (published by the American Association for Justice) discusses many of the important considerations in evaluating whether such a suit might be warranted (http://www.justice.org/cps/rde/xchg/justice/hs.xsl/18870.htm).
We look forward to watching the students bring the case to life on February 9, 2013 at one of our eight regional competitions. And we hope that many of you will catch the excitement by joining us as a team advisor, or serving as a judge, juror, or site volunteer at Regionals!