MANSFIELD — Ryan Spence was 10 years old and playing for the Mansfield Peewee Bengals when he tore his ACL during practice two years ago.
After two knee surgeries plus months of physical therapy, his parents filed a lawsuit.
"We're asking for the North Texas Youth Football Association to take responsibility for the injuries one of their agents caused to my client," said attorney Patrick Wigle of the Turley law firm in Dallas.
The Spences are not only suing two youth football associations; they also blame the head coach and an assistant personally for causing the injury during a drill conducted by the assistant.
"He was swinging a full-sized tackling dummy at the legs of the children at about knee level," Wigle said. "The drill being done was absolutely unnecessary and unsafe."
The Spence family's attorney said that makes the coaches personally negligent and liable. He said the boy's parents sued because the league's insurer denied thousands of dollars in medical claims.
The head coach involved declined an on-camera interview, but told News 8 he had used the drill for years. He said Ryan Spence's father was also a volunteer assistant, and that he raised no objection to it.
The Spences' attorney said the lawsuit should send a message that Peewee football needs more oversight to keep kids safe.
But coaches say the lawsuit could keep parents from volunteering if they're afraid they'll get sued.
The North Texas Youth Football Association planned to discuss the lawsuit at a meeting Thursday night.