Massachusetts Court: Youth Soccer Association Not Liable for Player Injury

When your kids take to the field for a game of soccer, you expect the field and the equipment to be safe, and if not, then you should expect to be able to bring claims on behalf of your injured child. But in Massachusetts, personal injury caused by a falling soccer goal on a field maintained by a youth soccer association does not result in any liability at all.

The facts are straightforward: The plaintiff was 12 years old, playing in a program run by Sudbury Youth Soccer Association, Inc. on a field owned by the association. The goal posts were not properly anchored, and there was no warning that the posts could tip over. The goal did tip over, causing serious injury to the plaintiff. Claims were brought on his behalf.

The soccer association denied liability, claiming the immunity that is provided by Massachusetts General Laws c. 231, Sec. 85V. That statute protects nonprofit sports programs from liability caused by neglience in the conduct of the programs. Liability is limited under the statute to injuries arising from the failure to maintian the real estate. The soccer goals were found by the court to not be part of the real estate owned by the association.

The statute governing the case is just one of many protections in place for volunteer, non-profit associations, and others. Some may argue that programs would be limited if liability were not lmited. The unfortunate victims are often innocent children who have suffered serious injuries.  

The case is Welch v. Sudbury Youth Soccer Association, Inc., 453 Mass. 352 (2009).

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