Hockey Hit Sparks Lawsuits

Contact and resulting injuries in sports are often considered part of the game. But in Chicago, a 15-year-old boy has been arrested for his role in a serious injury to another player during a high school hockey game.

Prosecutors say Neal Goss was paralyzed from the waist down when another hockey player slammed him into the boards after the final buzzer had sounded.

The boy was charged with aggravated battery for inadvertently paralyzing Goss. He could face up to six years in a juvenile facility if he is found guilty at his arraignment in early January.

"What is really astounding about this particular situation is that we have a youth being charged criminally for a sports-related injury," New Trier Hockey Club President Karl Lutz told CBS Early Show Anchor Bryant Gumbel. "I'm just not aware of a precedent for that. It makes this a very unusual and troubling situation."

Questions remain as to exactly how the events unfolded on the ice. According to the official referee report, as time was expiring the player hit Goss viciously in the back, which caused Goss to propel into the board where his head struck the board and caused the spinal injury.

Goss' family filed a civil action against the 15-year-old, the opposing team's coach, the hockey officials association, the Amateur Hockey Association of Illinois and the Northbrook Hockey League.

Goss family attorney Phillip Corboy, who has to show there was negligence at some point, said the facts of the case — including the rivalry between the two teams — show this was probably not an accident.

"There should have been special precautions taken in perhaps talking to the referees, the coaches before the games to make sure tempers were kept down," Corboy said, "keeping in mind that hockey is a very competitive and physical sport."

Lutz agreed that the rivalry between the two teams, who played for the state championship last year, is intense. However, he said the accused boy was not known for his violent behavior and had only one penalty throughout all of last season.

"There's a lot of times in a heated game where you watch a few kids because you're concerned about extra curricular activity at the buzzer," Lutz said. "This is not a kid you would have been looking for."

Corboy said Goss will be an incomplete quadriplegic the rest of his life.

"Best case scenario is that his family is going to be spending millions and millions of dollars on his rehabilitation to make his life a little more comfortable than he is now," Corboy said.

Corboy said due to the seriousness of the injuries and the large medical bills, the civil case will likely ask for a large amount in damages.