Sunday, August 14, 2022

New Jersey youth baseball umpire sues coach who punched him during game, seeking damages for broken jaw

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A New Jersey youth baseball umpire who was violently assaulted by a coach last month during a game in Branchburg has sued the man to seek damages for his injuries, according to a report by NJ Advance Media. The lawsuit seeks punitive damages and damages to cover medical expenses as well as pain and suffering.

While officiating a 13-and-under U.S. Amateur Baseball League tournament game on June 4, 72-year old James Neely was punched in the face by 40-year old coach Jerry Otero after ejecting him for using foul language in an argument over a call. Neely suffered a concussion and multiple jaw fractures, which have resulted in his jaw being wired shut and will likely require further surgery in order for it to be fully repaired.

“It’s atrocious what happened here,” Andrew L. O’Connor, Neely’s attorney, told NJ Advance Media. “It’s just so beyond the scope of what’s acceptable. These are kids, these are 13-year-olds trying to play little league. People have just lost perspective of what it’s all about at all these sporting events.”

Other defendants named in the lawsuit include the Staten Island-based New York Prospects, who Otero had been coaching, team president Frank Cambria, and the U.S. Amateur Baseball League. In addition, 10 John Does and parents who “verbally encouraged and/or fostered the assault” are also named as defendants.

Otero was arrested on June 21 and was charged with third-degree aggravated assault and fourth-degree assault at a youth sporting event. Depending on which assault charge is pursued, he faces a maximum sentence of up to five years in prison and fines of up to $15,000. Both Otero and his team have been banned from the U.S. Amateur Baseball League.

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