Doucette awarded $1.3 million
City, insurers settle lawsuit from 2010 preseason football injury at Nashua High School North
NASHUA – The city and its insurance carriers have agreed to pay Cooper Doucette, the Nashua High School North football player paralyzed in a 2010 practice, $2,000 per month for the rest of his life as part of a $1.3 million settlement of his
The monthly payments, which began Aug. 1, are to go into the Cooper Doucette Supplemental Needs Irrevocable Trust of 2017, the fund that the sides agreed to set up for Doucette. His father, William Doucette, is the trustee.
By agreement, the payments will be made each month for the remainder of Doucette’s life. They are guaranteed for 25 years, meaning the payments will be made through at least July 1, 2042.
Meanwhile, Doucette’s lawyers received just over half of the $1.3 million settlement, according to the 12-page agreement. The firm, Nixon Vogelman Barry Slawsky & Simoneau, based in Manchester, was paid roughly $738,000.
The settlement was reached in July, and notice was subsequently filed in Hillsborouigh County Superior Court South. The file,
however, didn’t include a copy of the settlement itself.
Nashua Attorney Brian Cullen, the chief lawyer for the city and the School District, confirmed that a settlement had been reached. While he didn’t provide a copy of the settlement, he said in a statement that the sides agreed as part of the settlement to establish a trust “to offset some of Cooper’s medical costs and future expenses.”
Cullen said the agreement “resolved all legal claims arising from the accident … “ and that Doucette agreed to drop “any and all” claims “against the city, the School District and their employees.”
Cullen added that the trust was formed “with the assistance of the city’s excess insurer,” which refers to a type of insurance that is typically used to supplement an entity’s primary insurance in certain cases.
The accident to which Cullen referred occurred in August 2010 during a preseason practice of the Nashua High School North football team.
Doucette, then a 15-year-old junior and a member of the junior varsity team, was attempting to tackle another player when he sustained a neck injury that left him a quadraplegic.
Attorney Lawrence A. Vogelman, Doucette’s lead lawyer, filed the suit on his behalf in February 2015, accusing the city and the School District of negligence.
Also named in the suit were then-coaches Jason Robie and Donald Fournier, who, the suit alleged, never taught Doucette safe-tackling techniques, and failed to “instruct, assess and supervise” him and other student-athletes “in order to reasonably ensure their safety.”
But Doucette and Vogelman later agreed to dismiss the claims against Robie and Fournier, a development that came several weeks before the settlement was announced.
Cullen, in his statement in July, said Doucette’s injury left him “significantly limited on a wide range of physical planes … despite the best efforts of coaches, trainers, emergency personnel and hospital staff.”
The trust, Cullen said, is geared toward helping Doucette and his family deal with “the daunting financial hurdles” he will likely face in the future.
Other language contained in the settlement, meanwhile, states that the fact the parties reached the settlement and agreed to the financial terms “are not to be construed as an admission of liability on the part of the defendant …,” referring to the city and its insurers.
The defendant also “expressly denies” any liability, it states.
Further, by entering into the settlement and accepting payments, Doucette agrees that “a complete compromise” was reached regarding “matters involving disputed issues of law and fact.”
The parities also agree that “this settlement is a compromise of a doubtful and disputed claim.”
Dean Shalhoup can be reached at 594-1256, dshalhoup@nashua
telegraph.com or @Telegraph_DeanS.