Youth Football Coach Sues USA Football Inc. After Being Struck by Lightning

On January 14, 2019, Zachary G. Mumford, a former assistant youth football coach from South Carolina, filed an amended lawsuit against USA Football Inc. In his lawsuit, Mumford alleges that he was struck by lightning while acting as an assistant coach for a youth football team in a local South Carolina youth football league.

According to Mumford, back in August 2015, he was coaching a practice for a team composed of 12- and 13-year-old boys at Carver Elementary School, when suddenly, a lightning storm abruptly ended practice. Mumford, along with other coaches, sought shelter for the children away from the field; however, all of the doors at Carver Elementary School were locked and coaches searched for vehicles, and other means, to provide shelter for the children. Later during the storm, Mumford and other volunteer coaches, returned to the field to gather their equipment and the children’s’ belongings; however, Mumford claims that during this time he was struck by lightning.

After being struck, Mumford’s body “body was in a contorted position and was smoldering; the grass around his body caught afire; his heart apparently stopped or almost stopped beating; his lips and skin color turned blue; and he was moaning and barely breathing.” Allegedly, the “lightning bolt violently struck Mumford in the chest, ran through his body and down his leg, and exited his body through his foot while burning a hole in the sole of his shoe.” He claims emergency services arrived on scene and administered emergency medical care and was hospitalized. As a result, Mumford was in a coma for several days.

In his lawsuit, Mumford alleges that his injury could have been avoided if USA Football Inc. had taught their coaches better safety procedures. USA Football Inc., a nonprofit organization funded by the NFL, included training courses for coaches, including coaches like Mumford in the Florence Junior Football League. However, Mumford claims that the USA Football Inc. training course did not include any lightning safety. According to the lawsuit, “USA Football knew or should have known of the critical importance for all youth football leagues to have a comprehensive, written emergency action plan that includes lightning safety protocols.”

Mumford, who was nineteen years old at the time of the incident, says he incurred and continues to suffer from severe physical, emotional, psychological, and financial harms and damages.

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