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Softball player's parents sue league, North Union over broken leg

| Saturday, March 15, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

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 lzemba@tribweb.com.

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