by Ryan McKeen
With most of the world’s attention is focused on “football” today, I figure it’s as good of a time as any to bang out a Connecticut soccer law post.
In Connecticut, events on the pitch have made it to our high court – with a friendly between Jaworski and Kiernan.
On May 16, 1993, during a game, Kiernan made contact with Jaworski during a recreational soccer game while Jaworski was shielding the soccer ball from the opposition so that the goalie on her team could retrieve the ball. As a result of this incident, Jaworski suffered an injury to her left anterior cruciate ligament, which caused a 15 percent permanent partial disability of her left knee.
Jaworski then sued Kiernan for her injuries claiming among other things that Kiernan should be found liable for negligence because his actions were in violation of league rules.
The Supreme Court disagreed and offered this analysis of the game of soccer:
Soccer while not as violent a sport as football, 7 is nevertheless replete with occasions when the participants make contact with one another during the normal course of the game. When two soccer players vie for control of the ball, the lower limbs are especially vulnerable to injury. If a player seeks to challenge another player who has possession of the ball or seeks to prevent another player from gaining possession of the ball, the resulting contact could reasonably be foreseen to result in injury to either player.
The Court went on to find that the defendant could not be held liable for negligence only deliberate, wilful, or reckless conduct:
A final public policy concern that influences our decision is our desire to stem the possible flood of litigation that might result from adopting simple negligence as the standard of care to be utilized in athletic contests. If simple negligence were adopted as the standard of care, every punter with whom contact is made, every midfielder high sticked, every basketball player fouled, 410 every batter struck by a pitch, and every hockey player tripped would have the ingredients for a lawsuit if injury resulted. When the number of athletic events taking place in Connecticut over the course of a year is considered, there exists the potential for a surfeit of lawsuits when it becomes known that simple negligence, based on an inadvertent violation of a contest rule, will suffice as a ground for recovery for an athletic injury. This should not be encouraged.
So have fun playing soccer and go USA!