Carousel Cumberland icon.jpg

VINELAND — An October 2017 trip to Dick’s Sporting Goods was all fun and games for three South Jersey teens until a golf club to the head knocked a 13-year-old boy unconscious and left him with a traumatic brain injury, a lawsuit says.

Now, the Vineland boy’s mother, Tiffany Fields, is suing the sports retailer in New Jersey Superior Court, claiming the store’s negligence directly resulted in her son’s “serious, severe, permanent and disabling injuries.”

Just as they’d done “many times before,” said Thomas J. Vesper, Fields’ attorney, then-13-year-old Colt Fields, his older brother and his brother’s friend walked into the Cumberland Mall Dick’s Sporting Goods by themselves Oct. 7, 2017. They made a beeline for the store’s “golf services” section. The area features hitting bays where customers can use “state-of-the-art technology” to “collect and display information relating to the flight of your ball after contact,” according to Dick’s website.

The golf services room was “open to all the public, including minor children,” and unsupervised by Dick’s employees when the boys wandered in, the lawsuit states.

While playing in the hitting bays, Colt Fields walked behind his brother — also a teenager at the time — who swung his club back and whacked the younger teen in the head, fracturing the boy’s skull and knocking him unconscious, Vesper said.

The teen was then transported to the hospital for treatment of a traumatic brain injury, Vesper said. More than two years later, Colt, now 15, still suffers from headaches and memory issues, Vesper said. The lawsuit doesn’t reference any other similar suits previously filed against Dick’s.

In court filings, an attorney for Dick’s denied allegations the sports retailer was to blame and said the events “were caused by third parties over whom (Dick’s) had no control.” She requested that a judge dismiss the case.

The lawsuit is seeking an unspecified amount of damages plus litigation costs.

Dick’s filing also requests that if a jury or arbitrator awards the Fields family money, the amount be reduced to reflect the mother’s “contributory negligence.”

A Dick’s spokesperson did not return requests for comment.

Employee supervision in the golf hitting bay was not up to par, the complaint argues, stating Dick’s “had a duty ... to take reasonable care to prevent its patrons from injuring themselves/others by handling and/or mishandling of its merchandise.”

“You have unsupervised kids swinging a deadly weapon, you don’t have the area secured like a batting cage, and the next thing you know, you’re in the emergency room,” Vesper said. He said he believes the room should be secured with a lock and require employee permission to enter.

The case was initially filed in Cumberland County and transferred to Atlantic County.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

PLEASE BE ADVISED: Soon we will no longer integrate with Facebook for story comments. The commenting option is not going away, however, readers will need to register for a FREE site account to continue sharing their thoughts and feedback on stories. If you already have an account (i.e. current subscribers, posting in obituary guestbooks, for submitting community events), you may use that login, otherwise, you will be prompted to create a new account.

Load comments