Judge in California dismisses soccer concussion lawsuit
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A federal judge in California dismissed a lawsuit alleging the U.S. Soccer Federation and other organizations had not done enough to reduce the risk of injury from concussions and repetitive “heading” of balls.
The seven soccer players named as plaintiffs had no right to bring the suit, in part because they had failed to show injuries or imminent danger of injury, or that the defendants were to blame, U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton ruled Thursday.
Among the defendants was FIFA, soccer’s world governing body.
Hamilton said her court did not have jurisdiction over FIFA, noting it was a Swiss association.
She dismissed the suit against FIFA outright and allowed the soccer players to amend their suit against the other organizations, saying they would have to provide additional evidence, including specific facts supporting injury claims and a causal link to the organizations being sued.
Plaintiffs’ attorney Steve Berman said he will appeal the decision regarding FIFA and amend the complaint based on the judge’s instructions.
“The epidemic of concussions in soccer - particularly in regards to youth players - is an issue that FIFA and U.S. Soccer cannot dodge any longer,” he said.
FIFA said in a statement it welcomed the ruling.
“The court concluded that FIFA cannot be held responsible for football played throughout the United States and, as such, all claims relating to concussion and negligence against FIFA must be dismissed,” it said.
The plaintiffs — four of whom were under 17 — were members of soccer clubs in their communities, according to Hamilton’s ruling.
The lawsuit filed last year demanded that the soccer governing bodies alter rules regarding player substitutions to ensure injured players can be taken out of games and limit headers for players 17 and younger, among other changes.
It also sought medical monitoring for anyone who has played soccer since 2002 under one of the organizations.
The NFL, NHL and U.S. college sports governing body the NCAA have all faced similar concussion lawsuits.