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Tribune-Review (Greensburg, PA)

The parents of a 12-year-old softball player who broke her leg while sliding into home plate have filed a civil lawsuit against a Fayette County youth league and North Union Township.

The league's president said such lawsuits make it harder for volunteers to organize youth sports.

In addition to North Union, James and Kathy Hershberger of Springhill named the R.W. Clark Youth Baseball League of Franklin Township in their suit.

One of the Hershbergers' daughters broke her right leg on June 23 while sliding into home plate on a baseball field near Oliver Road in North Union, according to the lawsuit filed by attorney Benjamin Goodwin of Uniontown.

The girl was on a team invited by the R.W. Clark Youth League to the field for a game, according to the suit.

Goodwin contends the girl broke her leg because the base path from third base to home plate was uneven with holes and ruts in it, the lawsuit states.

The suit says that when the girl was sliding, her right foot caught in one of the ruts in the base path.

The injury kept her out of school and extracurricular activities for a "substantial time," resulted in permanent scarring and will limit her earning capacity, according to the lawsuit.

Trevor Waligura, president of the youth league, declined to comment on the lawsuit. In general, he said, lawsuits against volunteer groups harm their ability to operate.

"It's a shame that people go after lawsuits when we are all volunteers," he said. "Nobody makes a nickel off of this. All this does is destroy youth sports."

Waligura said injuries are a part of sports.

"There's a baseball, there's a bat, and there are people running as fast as they can toward you," Waligura said. "It's a sport. Injuries happen."

Goodwin said the league and township had a responsibility to ensure a safe playing field.

"If you're going to have a league, you have to make sure the field is safe," he said. "Kids have no control over the field."

North Union is named because it owns the field. Township Supervisor Robert Tutpa declined to comment.

Goodwin is seeking in excess of $50,000 plus legal costs.

Liz Zemba is a reporter for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-601-2166 or


March 17, 2014


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Why should anybody be surprised by this? We live in a litigious society with too many lawyers. Hopefully this softball organization has had this injured girl sign a waiver regarding injuries from playing. Outdoor athletic venues are not hidden so the parents should have been aware of the condition of the field and if they felt uncomfortable they should have kept their child out. We have all (almost all) played on sub standard ball fields growing up. I remember playing on football fields with metal sewer covers and cement walls for a hockey rink.
These days any fairly educated lawyer will be able to destroy the purpose and protections of any sort of wavier, no matter how definite, complex, complete, or content. It is sad that our country has come to this. We must not continue to let these sort of parents ruin volunteers and the game just for money. Yes I am sure that the financial burden of related medical care for this type of injury was very steep and very high but that still does not make this right. Instead it just ruins organizations for youth that do their best to protect the youth in their care from harm or injury.