Judge dismisses football player's lawsuit against Newport schools for MRSA infection

Judge dismisses football player's lawsuit against Newport schools for MRSA infection

NEWPORT, KY (FOX19) - A Campbell Circuit Court judge dismissed a lawsuit filed against Newport schools by a visiting football player who claimed he received a serious infection from the artificial turf at Newport High School.

On Oct. 30, Campbell Circuit Judge Julie Reinhardt Ward granted Newport Independent Schools' motion for a summary ruling - which subsequently dismissed the case.

Brycen McWilliams claimed in the lawsuit that while playing for the Somerset High School football team in a November 2013 game at Newport High School that a cut on his body was infected with a staph bacteria infection known as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) from the field's artificial turf.

Judge Reinhardt Ward ruled that the school district was "entitled to governmental immunity," protecting it against claims in the suit.

Newport Independent Schools Superintendent Kelly Middleton says he is grateful the case was dismissed.

"Nothing is more important than the safety and welfare of students or persons who are in our schools or using our athletic facilities. We spent a lot of time and resources because of this lawsuit, but we knew all along that we did nothing inappropriate, unsafe. or unsanitary, and we applaud Judge Reinhardt Ward's fair and impartial ruling," Middleton said.

Citing case law in her order, Judge Reinhardt Ward ruled that "school boards are an agency of the state and thus entitled to governmental immunity when performing a government function."

"Further, Kentucky law considers the authorization and management of interscholastic athletics (like football programs) to be the performance of a government function," Judge Reinhardt Ward wrote. "Here, the Court believes that any decision by the Board concerning how to treat or manage the football field falls within the realm of its performance of a government function of managing athletics."

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