A West Rutland man is suing the city over injuries from a soccer game in 2007.
Drake Hull, 22, filed the lawsuit last year in Rutland civil court. It also names two defunct organizations — Rutland Regional Fieldhouse Inc. and Countryside Glass. The city has filed a cross-claim against the other two defendants. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages.
According to the lawsuit, a 10-year-old Hull was at the Fieldhouse — now Spartan Arena — for a Rutland Recreation and Parks Department youth soccer program in March 2007. Just before the game began, according to court records, he went to retrieve a ball from a part of the building where several 8-foot by 4-foot high-density polyethylene sheets had been stacked against a wall.
The sheets fell, according to the complaint, hit him and smashed his face into a metal pole, pinning him there. Court records say he lost two teeth, broke the bone supporting his upper gum and suffered broken teeth as well as cuts to his ear, nose and lips.
“(Hull) required medical and dental treatment, has undergone multiple dental surgeries and procedures, has had to utilize dental appliances, has undergone root canals and placement of crowns, and has undergone bone-grafting procedures,” the complaint reads. “Despite the medical and dental procedures undertaken on plaintiff’s behalf, many of the injuries which he suffered are permanent.”
The lawsuit argues that the sheets were placed negligently because they were stacked unsecured, against a wall and resting on their shorter sides, making it more likely they might fall down. The suit also claims they were in an area not secured from the public in any way, making it more likely someone might be there if the sheets did fall. The complaint spreads the liability among the city for organizing the program, the Fieldhouse for hosting it and Countryside Glass for stacking the sheets.
A one-page response from Countryside Glass, filed Nov. 29, 2017, states “Countryside Glass has never sold high-density polyethylene sheets for use in hockey rinks” and says the company ceased operations in February of that year. Court records show no response from Rutland Regional Fieldhouse Inc., which the Vermont Secretary of State’s corporations database said has been inactive since 2009.
The city filed a response generally denying liability and saying it had been indemnified by the Fieldhouse against liability related to the program there.
Hull’s attorney, Robert McClallen, said the 10-year delay in bringing the lawsuit was because Hull’s injuries had not “resolved.”
“We hadn’t gotten to an end-point in the healing process,” he said.
McClallen said he was not sure what the defunct status of the Fieldhouse and Countryside Glass meant for the lawsuit, but that both those entities had liability insurance at the time.
He also said an upcoming hearing was likely to shed light on those questions as well as Countryside Glass’ denial of involvement.
A call to James Carroll, representing the city, was not immediately returned Wednesday.