Saying the head of a Connecticut softball league refused to refund fees after dismissing her daughter’s travel team, a New Canaan woman is seeking $1,595 in Small Claims Court.
According to a claim filed April 9, the president of the Connecticut Seahawks refused to refund fees after an on-field argument during a game held in Trumbull in February led to angry exchanges with the coach of the league’s U16 and, ultimately, a decision to dismiss the team.
Instead of reimbursing parents on the team, according to the claim filed in Stamford by Nancy Welch, the league president “said the girls could try out for one of the other Seahawks teams.”
“This is not customary,” the plaintiff said in an electronic filing. “When a player joins a travel team, they are offered a spot by a specific coach for a specific team. The player does not expect that her team will be dissolved and the girls split up onto three or four different teams with a coach and teammates they don’t know.”
Furthermore, those other teams “already had full rosters,” the plaintiff said, so the league president effectively had “badgered” U16 team’s coach, “then kicked the team out, then confiscated everyone’s money.”
“There was no oversight to this decision by any other Seahawks officials,” the complaint said. “There was no organizational process.”
In addition to the Monroe-based Seahawks, league president Paul Crisci of Branford is named as a defendant.
The Seahawks organization is represented by attorney Paul Joseph Ganim of Bridgeport-based Ganim Legal, according to an appearance filed Tuesday. Saying there’s a counterclaim greater than the jurisdiction of Small Claims Court, a motion was filed Tuesday on behalf of the firm to move the suit to the court’s regular docket. A person can sue for up to $5,000 in Connecticut Small Claims Court. According to an affidavit filed Tuesday on behalf of the firm, “a counterclaim alleging slander, libel and vexatious litigation will be filed in this matter.”
According to the plaintiff’s claim, Crisci began arguing with the coach of the U16 team during a game held at an indoor sports facility in Trumbull. He “walked onto the field and argued with the coach while a player was lying on the ground with a head injury,” the claim said.
“This was upsetting to the girls on the team, as [the team’s coach] was challenged to provide first aid to the injured girl because of [the league president’s] aggression,” it continued. “After the game, [the league president] again became aggressive with [the coach], and there was an altercation which precipitated a call to the police. The police arrived on the scene, and a report was filed. After this, [the league president] told [the coach] to ‘take your team and leave’ and sent similar dismissive text messages.”
Welch is seeking $1,595.
In the claim, she said her daughter signed up to play with a specific coach “and with that group of girls.”
“This typically [is] what motivates a player to join a travel team—which is that they choose a coach they prefer, and a team they prefer,” the claim said. “I did not sign any contract with Seahawks, let alone one that says my daughter can be placed on another team at any time. Our team was unable to play together because of [the league president’s] actions, yet he is claiming we are responsible for expenses incurred after the date of termination. His teams have been practicing in the InSports facility every week since our team was dismissed. CT Seahawks is enjoying this privilege, yet [the league president] and his attorney stated that our team should shoulder this cost. In addition, our team has seven summer tournaments scheduled which were unpaid by the CT Seahawks and are a big part of the fees.”
Though team parents had an attorney try to settle the matter with the league president’s representation, those parties have “refused to refund our fees so now we have to use the court’s time by filling eight individual small claims suits.”
“I, and the other team parents, have had to pay for alternate practice space since Feb. 4, and we have to pay additional team fees for uniforms and the seven unpaid tournaments,” the claim said. “This situation, which was precipitated by [the league president’s] actions on Feb. 4, 2019, has been stressful to me and to my daughter, and I have spent many hours working with parents, the CT Department of Consumer Protection and the CT Attorney General’s office trying to get resolution and restitution.”
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