Is Your Organization Covered—for Anything?

The idea of crisis plans for your team, event or venue is to try to think of anything and everything that can happen, and make sure you have a correct response to every scenario you can come up with. auction-gavel-2

But too often, no one takes into consideration 1) demanding parents and 2) litigation at the drop of a gavel.

When his 16-year-old son didn’t get the most valuable player award, Michel Croteau didn’t get mad, he tried to get even. He hired a lawyer and sued his son’s youth hockey league to the tune of more than $200,000. Croteau claimed his son Steve should have been the MVP since he had the most goals and assists in the league. When he didn’t win, daddy claimed that Steve was so embarrassed, he wanted to quit hockey.

This isn’t an isolated case. In the year the Croteau lawsuit was filed, 2013, parents filed more than 200 non-injury-related sports lawsuits against coaches, leagues and school districts in the United States, according to Gil Fried, a University of New Haven professor specializing in sports law.

But wait, there’s more.

The Butzke family sued the Comsewogue, N.Y., school district because their eighth-grade daughter was taken off the varsity high school soccer team.

The Branco family took legal action against the Washington Township, N.J., school district after their son, David, was cut from the junior varsity basketball team.

The Rubin family sued California’s New Haven Unified School District for $1.5 million because their son got kicked off the varsity basketball team.

Marc Martinez sued his son’s baseball coach, John Emme, twice, and both times the suit was thrown out. It all surrounded the fact that Emme removed J.D. Martinez from the varsity roster, and dad claimed Emme did it for spite since Martinez the elder had complained to the school district that Emme was having his son throw too much. Coach Emme then countersued Martinez, a move Emme’s lawyer said was as much about Martinez as it was to send a message to parents around the country.

Most everyone has insurance to cover injury, weather, and other fairly predictable problems. Litigation is a growing issue, though, for many sports organizations, especially youth sports. Make sure you have a plan (and an attorney) in place that can help you out, in case there’s a case brought against you.

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