Charlie Horton, a goalkeeper brought in by D.C. United at the start of the 2016 season, is going to court over an incident that he claims has ended his professional soccer career. In a filing with the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, Horton, who did not have his option picked up by United this year, alleges that he picked up his concussion when former teammate, Fabian Espindola, attacked him last March after a video session before a practice.
The incident, Horton claims, happened after a training ground argument between himself and Espindola two weeks prior. On March 29th, 2016, Horton says that Espindola confronted him, and despite Horton not wanting to discuss the problems, Espindola hit Horton in the left temple with an elbow. The two then had two be separated by teammates and staff.
As part of the claim, Horton is suing Espindola, head coach Ben Olsen, D.C. United, and Major League Soccer for compensatory and punitive damages.
When reached out to, D.C. United said no comment to the court filing.
In the immediate aftermath of the incident, Horton claims that he was allowed to practice that day with United. It wasn’t until the following day, in which Horton showed up for practice once again, that his symptoms prevented him from practicing that day, according to the filing. It was only then that Horton was entered into the MLS Concussion Protocol.
Some of the issues that Horton says have arisen from his concussion include: memory loss, visual disturbances, light and sound sensitivity, lack of concentration, a diminution of cognitive function, and chronic headaches, all of which were claimed in the court filing.
Horton also states in the filing that he was cleared to return to the field in May 2016, despite the fact that his symptoms continued to persist. Horton would play some with the Richmond Kickers, before a finger injury ruled him out for the rest of the 2016 season.
During the 2017 preseason, Horton was fighting for a spot on the roster. United held options for Horton in 2017, 2018, and 2019. But Horton was let go by United after their first preseason camp, and retired shortly after, claiming that he is still suffering from the concussion.
In the filing, the counts against Espindola that Horton is claiming are assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress. The count against Olsen and United is negligent supervision, while on of the counts against MLS is negligent hiring and retention. On this front, Horton is claiming that the team and league knew about Espindola’s previous issues with aggression on the field, which were unbeknownst to Horton, who had previously spent his career in England.
Horton is also suing MLS and United for Respondeat Superior/Vicarious liability.
In addition, due to the injury, Horton is claiming significant wage loss, as well as the loss of his playing career, which has diminished his earning capacity.
Here is a link to the court filing.