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Negligent maintenance claim lodged against NFL stadium operator

A former Houston Texans punter is suing the agency that is responsible for operating Reliant Stadium for failing to maintain the premises. The claim alleges that the agency allowed unsafe turf to be used, resulting in a potential career-ending injury for the punter.

The former punter played in the first 12 games last season before incurring an injury that resulted in the tear of his left anterior cruciate ligament and a bone fracture. The accident occurred when the player caught his left foot in a seam that was between 8-by-8-foot palettes of real grass. The player's claim says that the injury is career-threatening. He was released from the Texans in August.

The punter has undergone two surgeries to his knee but he anticipates future surgeries. His lawsuit includes comments by other football players and coaches that criticize the field's surface. Some of the comments included concerns that the players had about being injured on the rough surface. The complaint is asking for an unspecified amount of damages.

While this is certainly not the first case brought by a professional football player, this case is certainly unusual. In a typical premises liability case, a plaintiff must show that a property owner exhibited negligence that resulted in a customer injury. In this case, the plaintiff will likely need to prove that the negligent maintenance of the field resulted in his injury. A premises liability attorney may be able to use information about other injuries that occurred on the field as a basis for establishing the property owner's knowledge of the dangerous aspect of the field.

Source: Associated Press, "Former Texans punter sues stadium tenant over turf," Chris Duncan, Nov. 15, 2012

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