The central Texas family of a young soccer player struck by lightning has sued the sports facility where the injury occurred and two youth soccer association for not meeting the industry standard of having lightning detection equipment in place. The suit was filed in Travis County District Court.
Roger and Jadwiga Hermann, parents of Alex Hermann, have named the Field of Dreams (a facility owned by the Lake Travis Youth Association), the South Texas Soccer Association and the Capital Area Youth Soccer Association as defendants.
Herrman, a 4th grader, was warming up for a game on August 26 with his teammates. It reportedly wasn’t raining when a lightning bolt came out of the sky and struck Herrman and two other players. Herrman was reportedly struck in the stomach. CPR was administered immediately by a bystander. All three players were taken to Dell Children’s Medical Center.
“Alex Hermann, sustained severe and permanent damages when all of the Defendants failed to comply with the basic safety principles on weather safety when lightning is in the area, specifically when children are participating in sports (soccer) on an open field,” according to the lawsuit filed on behalf of the Herrman by attorney Mark Levin. He added that the defendants were negligent for “failing to designate a weather monitor,” and “failing to warn of a dangerous condition.”
“As a result, Minor Plaintiff, Alex Hermann, was hit by lightning and is now unable to speak, hear, talk or move.”
Elaborating on this, Levin told a local television station, KXAN, in early September that Hermann is in “a semi-vegetative state.” Since then, “Pray for Alex” Facebook page has revealed modest improvement. The plaintiffs are seeking at least $10 million to cover current medical expenses and future treatment for Alex.
Levin told the station that be believes “a figure of $10 million is not an outrageous figure when you look at a young man like this who is going to need around the clock care for the next possibly 20 years. You can tell from his hospital bill being $500,000 in two weeks what his medical care is going to be like over his lifetime, and that’s all got to come out the parents pocket whatever doesn’t come out of insurance.”
Another local television station, KEYE, sought and received a response from the Lake Travis Youth Association, one of the defendants”
“First and foremost, LTYA Board members and Association members, along with the entire community, feel tremendous sympathy for Alex’s family. We understand that there is a lawsuit filed against LTYA concerning the recent lightning accident. We have not yet been served the lawsuit. Upon receipt of the lawsuit we would not be able to comment on any pending litigation. Our thoughts and prayers remain with Alex and his family.”
Meanwhile, Glenn Smith, the former vice president of LTYA, was quoted as saying that lightning detectors were uncommon among area youth sports leagues.
“Hardly anybody has lightning detectors, and nobody knows the accuracy of them at this point,” he told the Lake Travis View. “I called a bunch of youth league offices and they don’t have them. It’s a $60,000 investment and we don’t even know much about them.”
He told the local paper that the association’s typical practice is to remove young athletes from their fields as soon as lightning is seen in the sky.
Attorney Levin, meanwhile, challenged that aapproach.
“If you look at the weather, we’ve got a news article that said there was a huge storm cell in the area right when this thing happened,” he said. “If you look at industry standards or (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) standards, lightning can strike a minimum of 10 miles and further. If they’re saying it was six miles away, the kids should not be on the field. This is the science of lightning strikes.”