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Quadriplegic sues juvenile facility over football injury

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A teen who became a quadriplegic after being injured playing football at a Lawrence County juvenile placement facility has filed a lawsuit against the center and its employees.

Eric Betts and his mother, Susan Betts, filed the suit against New Castle Youth and Development Center, as well as seven people who work there.

Mr. Betts entered the minimum-security detention center in April 2006 when he was 17.

According to the 15-page complaint, Mr. Betts was injured the morning of April 29, 2006, when staff members at the facility required him and nine other residents to play tackle football.

About 20 minutes into the game, after his team scored a touchdown, Mr. Betts was attempting to tackle the person returning the ensuing kickoff when he suffered a spinal cord injury, according to the lawsuit.

“After making contact with the student who was holding the ball, Plaintiff Eric Betts collapsed to the ground and suffered injuries to the bones, muscles, nerves, nervous system, brain, tendons, tissues and blood vessels of his body,” the lawsuit says.

Susan and Eric Betts allege negligence, recklessness and deliberate indifference in their complaint, saying that the defendants consciously disregarded the possible risk of injury.

They are seeking more than $75,000 in compensatory and punitive damages.

Mr. Betts now lives at Woodhaven Care Center in Monroeville.

By Paula Reed Ward, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
(Paula Reed Ward can be reached at 412-263-2620. )

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