Walter Clark Legal Group files legal action on behalf of 10-year-old seriously injured in a flag football league while playing on an unsafe field.

RANCHO MIRAGE — A lawsuit was filed Friday against Desert Sands Friday Night Lights (DSFNL) and others that operate a flag football league in the Coachella Valley. Desert Sands Unified School District, where the games are played, was also named as a defendant.

Friday Night Lights is a non-profit organization started by Mark Broersma and Chris Ketcham in 2006. Their vision is to bring a high-quality FUN Flag Football league to Southern California, according to their website.

The flag football league promotes itself as organizing “first-class, well-run flag football leagues.” DSFNL collects registration fees, and the league generates substantial revenue, from parents who entrust their children—and their safety—to those who operate the league, according to a news release from Walter Clark Legal Group. The parents in this case, Ali and Kyle Cowan entrusted the safety of their 10-year-old son to DSFNL. DSFNL and the school district failed to exercise reasonable care by permitting flag football games on a field that was poorly maintained and posed hidden dangers to youngsters playing on the field.

DSUSD has not yet responded to a request for comment.

On May 4, 2023, the Cowan’s son, while playing on defense, intercepted a pass. What should have been an exciting moment for him, his parents, and his team, turned into a terrifying one when he unknowingly stepped in a hole on the field while running for a touchdown, according to the release. He fell and suffered a serious fracture to the femur bone in his leg. Paramedics rushed him to the hospital, then hours later he was transferred to another hospital for specialized pediatric surgical care, and he has now undergone multiple surgeries at a young age.

“He fractured his right femur; it was a complete transverse fracture (perpendicular to the bone) with multiple fracture points,” Attorney Dan C. Bolton told Uken Report.  “He was unable to walk after the fall.  The first surgery was to repair the fracture with internal fixation.  Then, about six months later, he had another surgery to remove the fixation device.  During the surgery, it was discovered that one screw had broken off, so a portion of the screw was left in the bone.  Removing all of the screw would entail yet another, more invasive, procedure.  The child is now recovering from the second surgery and has residual scarring on his leg from the surgeries.”

Attorneys Walter T. Clark and Bolton represent the Cowan family in the civil case. According to Bolton, “safety must come first in a youth flag football league. This tragedy was easily preventable if those in charge took the initiative to maintain and inspect the field before placing children in harm’s way when the game begins.”


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