Wood school boards sued over fight at South football practice

By Lawrence Smith | May 16, 2012

PARKERSBURG – A Wood County woman is alleging a high school football coach took the idea of smash-mouth football too literally.

The Wood County Board of Education is named as a co-defendant in a lawsuit filed May 1 by Lisa Watson. In her suit, Watson, a Parkersburg resident, alleges Dwain Sponseller, an assistant football coach at Parkersburg South High School, not only failed to intervene, but also encouraged a fight between her son, Adam Cross, and another player two years ago during and after a practice.

Sponseller, 28, a Mineral Wells resident, is also named as defendant in the suit.

According to the suit, Adam and another student identified as D.M. got into a dispute on Oct. 29, 2010, before football practice. The nature of the dispute is not stated.

Regardless, Watson alleges, Sponseller "became aware of the dispute between the students before football practice began." Also, she alleges Sponseller "provoked the hostility between the two students before, during and/or after the practice by taunting the students and by verbally encouraging aggression between D.M. and Cross."

According to the suit, D.M. approached Adam in the locker room after practice, and "a fist fight ensued wherein Cross was knocked unconscious by blows from D.M." Sponseller, Watson alleges, "observed the imminent conduct before the fight, observed all or part of the fight, failed to stop the fight [and] failed to summon appropriate medical treatment for Cross after the fight."

In her suit, Watson maintains Sponseller and the Board owed she and Adam a duty to keep PSHS "in reasonably safe and secure condition." As a result of the injuries he suffered from the fight with D.M., Watson alleges Adam suffered "physical injury, psychological damages" incurred "medical expenses, pain and suffering, permanent damage, diminution of earning capacity" and "endured a loss of capacity to enjoy his life."

Watson seeks unspecified damages, court costs, and attorneys fees. She is represented by Parkersburg attorneys James R. Leach and Victoria J. Sopranik.

The case is assigned to Judge Jeffrey B. Reed.

Wood Circuit Court case number 12-C-186

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