Mediation underway in lawsuit involving paralyzed Nashua football player
NASHUA — Mediation efforts are underway in an attempt to settle a lawsuit brought against the school district and two former coaches by a football player who was paralyzed during a 2010 practice.
According to court documents, attorneys for Cooper Doucette and the Nashua School District have agreed to an alternative dispute resolution process, a method used to possibly resolve a disagreement outside of a trial.
Court records indicate that mediation is expected to be complete by the end of April.
Doucette, 21, is suing the school district and former Nashua High School North head coach Jason Robie and assistant coach Donald Fournier, claiming they neglected to demonstrate proper and safe tackling skills.
Last summer, Judge Jacalyn Colburn denied a motion by the district and the coaches to dismiss the civil suit, which is tentatively scheduled for trial on Sept. 18 if mediation is not successful. Colburn recently denied a request by the school district asking her to reconsider that ruling.
The school district’s attorney, Brian Cullen, argues in court documents that playing high school football is a recreational activity, and since the land was being used for recreational purposes the school district and its employees should not be held liable for bodily or personal injury under RSA 507-B:5, which governs personal injury claims against municipalities.
Doucette’s attorney, Lawrence Vogelman, contends that on the day of Doucette’s accident, no instruction was given by the two coaches about the risk of serious injury if tackling was done without keeping one’s head up.
Doucette was injured on Aug. 14, 2010, in the team’s first contact practice of the preseason. He suffered a broken neck during his first attempt at a tackling drill when, according to court records, he put his head down as he tried to tackle a running back and hit the other player’s knee with his head.
Doucette alleges that his injury was the result of negligence from the coaches responsible for his training and supervision. He was 15 years old at the time, and a member of Nashua North’s junior varsity football team.