The case is not completed yet because the panel reversed the district court’s original decision and remanded the case, meaning it will be sent back to the district court for further action.
The plaintiff, Alice Mayall, stated that her minor daughter was returned to playing goalie in a tournament despite being hit in the face with a ball and displaying concussion symptoms. After getting back into the game, Mayall’s daughter was hit additional times in the head, leading to “severely debilitating post-concussion symptoms,” according to the case summary.
Mayall believed that USA Water Polo was responsible for the injuries her daughter suffered after she was returned the game from being hit in the face.
Mayall’s daughter played for Livermore Area Recreation and Park District Lazars water polo club in California.
Under California state law, the panel reviewing the case stated that the secondary head injuries that Mayall’s daughter suffered were not “inherent in the sport of water polo.”
As a result, USA Water Polo owed a duty of care to Mayall’s daughter. USA Water Polo claimed it fulfilled that duty of care through its “Rules Governing Coaches Conduct,” but that claim was rejected by the panel.
Mayall alleged that USA Water Polo repeatedly ignored putting in place a concussion management and return to play protocol. Additionally, as early as 2011, parents raised “concerns with USA Water Polo about the need for a concussion protocol.”
But USA Water Polo did not implement a concussion protocol for youth participants even though the organization had a protocol for national team adult athletes.
Therefore the panel stated that because USA Water Polo was well-aware of the risk of concussions and the organizations failure to implement a protocol constitutes “an extreme departure from the ordinary standard of conduct, and amounts to gross negligence under California law.”
Because the case was reversed and remanded, the case will return to the lower district court for reconsideration in the light of the the higher court’s decision that USA Water Polo was negligent.
The case is still pending because the mandate, or an order from a higher court directing the lower district court to take action, has not yet been issued according to a US Court of Appeals clerk in the ninth circuit.
USA Water Polo is petitioning for a rehearing, too; but that petition can be approved or rejected.