Lightning Death Lawsuit Focuses on Detection and Supervision

Written by PC News on . Posted in Field Safety, Litigation, Weather

The October 2012 lightning death of a middle school football player has led to a wrongful death lawsuit in Florida.  (Original story here.)  In the course of the lawsuit depositions and pre-trial discovery have revealed two issues that will be a focus of any trial or settlement discussions.  The private school had a lightning detector on premises, but it had not been taken out of the offices before the boy was struck.  In addition, discovery suggests that, despite weather concerns, players were sent to the field unsupervised at the time of the accident.

Weather policies are a necessary part of a risk management program.  Reading the depositions, the coaches that testified have different opinions about what is necessary and who is ultimately responsible for the decisions on the field.  (Read about depositions here.)  Although the school owned a lightning detector, it was not in use at the time.  Although the school appears to have anticipated the need for the equipment, there was no apparent protocol for its use in bad weather conditions.  Despite this, players were instructed to head to the fields.  No coaches were on the field at the time.  If lightning was visible before the strike, no coach was available to instruct the players to leave the area and take cover.  The potential risk to players from weather conditions demonstrates why players cannot be unsupervised during bad weather, and why weather policies must be well thought out and executed whenever weather threatens.

Let us review and revise your weather plan and programs.  Contact Scott Placek at 512-879-1655 or through the contact form.