Soccer injury trial concludes

LIHUE — A week-long civil trial against the Department of Education regarding a high school soccer injury concluded Tuesday in 5th Circuit Court.

Chief Judge Randal Valenciano will make the decision in the trial at 1 p.m. on Nov. 14 Rather than take closing arguments in court on Tuesday, Valenciano ordered the attorneys to present them in writing prior to the next hearing.

The trial involved a civil liability complaint brought by a former Kapaa High School soccer player, Dakota Barnett, 21, who was seriously injured during a practice at the Kapaa Armory field on Dec. 8, 2008. The injury occurred when the high school junior slid against a steel plate that was used to hold up a temporary goal and cut open her left knee. Over the course of a week there was testimony from family, doctors, coaches, school officials and expert witnesses.

The final question from the plaintiff on Tuesday was if the small-round, “traffic-style” cones were available to Kapaa High School soccer teams for use at practice, were the coaches aware of them?

“Yes,” said Kapaa High School Athletic Director Gregory Gonsalves.

The state’s case centered on Barnett’s activity aggravating the injury and that the Department of Education did not act with negligence in setting up the makeshift goal for the practice.

Barnett played for one season in college and testified that the injury had reduced her physical ability to perform at the collegiate and Olympic level she has striven for since she was a child.

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