Former Athletic Trainer Sues Union, Citing Coaches’ Dismissiveness About Athletes’ Concussions

(Editor’s Note: What follows is an excerpt for the latest issue of Concussion Litigation Reporter. You can subscribe to  CLR by visiting this link.)

A former high school athletic trainer has sued the Windham Southeast Supervisory Union (WSSU), an administrative organization that provides support and services for several educational institutions in Vermont, claiming she resigned under pressure after coaches were dismissive of her measures and concerns regarding traumatic brain injuries suffered by the athletes under her care.

Jaclyn Penson, a resident of New Hampshire, filed suit March 3 in federal court in Vermont, alleging wrongful termination in violation of Vermont’s public policy mandating protection of student athletes participating in school athletic programs.

The plaintiff, represented by attorney Norman E. Watts of Watts, is seeking a jury trial, judgment, and an award from her supervisory union for lost compensation and benefits as well as damages, attorney’s fees and court costs.

Penson began her nearly 4-year tenure at Brattleboro Union High School in 2016. She was designated an “allied health care provider” under Vermont law. Her duties included “promoting and implementing an effective athletic training program; providing first aid, injury evaluation diagnosis and assessments, treatment, rehabilitation, and reconditioning for student athletes; and protecting student athletes from serious injuries,” according to the lawsuit. She was also required “to implement, administer, supervise, and update concussion protocols for student athletes and maintain an emergency action plan.” She also was responsible for supervising “the clearance on injured athletes prior to and during the sports seasons,” as well as “the required training and certifications of all coaches and (coordinating) their professional development.”

The complaint continued: “Although plaintiff was charged with the aforementioned responsibilities and enforcement of safety protocols for student athletes, some of …

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