Cheer Sport Sharks at centre of $2.5-million lawsuit involving Cambridge athlete

Cheer Sport Sharks co-owners Ali Moffatt (left) and Alana Potter at the organization's former home on Boxwood Drive.  A former athlete is suing the organization in Hamilton Superior Court.Cheer Sport Sharks co-owners Ali Moffatt (left) and Alana Potter at the organization's former home on Boxwood Drive.  A former athlete is suing the organization in Hamilton Superior Court.

A former Cheer Sports Sharks member is seeking $2 million in damages after allegedly injuring himself at the club in 2016.

According to a lawsuit filed in Hamilton Superior Court in October 2022, former Shark athlete Brooklyn Seftel is accusing the Cheer Sport Sharks, including coaches Kaitlin Beier and Rayna Marques, and the Ontario Cheerleading Federation (OCF) of negligence after they allegedly suffered an injury had which led to permanent impairments. Seftel’s father, Grant, and mother, Michelle, who died of cancer in August 2022, are also listed as plaintiffs. They’re asking for $500,000 in damages.

A statement of defense has not yet been filed. The allegations were not tested in court.

Sharks co-owner Ali Moffatt said in an email to the Times, “We cannot discuss the matter as it is a legal battle.”

Lindsay Groves, President of the OCF, said in an email, “The OCF is unable to comment at this time as the matter is pending litigation.”

Attempts to contact Brooklyn and Grant Seftel and Marques were unsuccessful. Plaintiffs’ attorney, K. Renée Reynolds, did not respond when asked for comment.

The lawsuit alleges Seftel, now 20, attended a closed practice on February 16, 2016 to prepare for the provincial championships. The organization was then based in Cambridge, as it had been for nearly two decades, before moving to Kitchener for the 2022/23 season.

During pyramiding practice, Seftel was allegedly hit in the head and neck by a teammate and suffered from dizziness, nausea, photosensitivity and “other symptoms of concussion,” the lawsuit states.

Seftel attended another training four days later, on February 20, and said she had told trainer Kaitlin Beier that she was suffering from concussion symptoms and asked that she not attend the pyramid building training. Seftel was reportedly ordered to take part in the pyramid building exercise and was hit several times on the head by a teammate.

Allegations against the Sharks and their coaches include failing to notify Seftel’s parents of their injury within a reasonable time, failing to follow concussion protocol and recovery guidelines, failing to follow competitor safety procedures, failing to properly maintain coaches, to supervise and train and failure to exercise reasonable care or control over a hazardous situation.

Allegations against the OCF include failing to ensure its rules and policies were being followed, failing to monitor or inspect its members to ensure they have a good reputation, failing to train its members on proper policies and have failed to ensure their members’ programs were safe and followed best practice.

As a result of the pyramid incidents, Seftel claims she suffered concussion, post-concussion syndrome, photosensitivity, migraines and other headaches, fatigue, cognitive changes, anxiety, depression, chronic pain and “other functional limitations that have been and will continue to be required of the.” Support from treating physicians, other service providers and aids.”

It is also claimed that Seftel has suffered a loss of zest for life and is “unable to properly look after itself and must rely on the care of others”. The lawsuit states that she was unable to continue her education, which will result in continued loss of income and a competitive disadvantage.

The Seftel plaintiffs state in their complaint that they also incurred expenses, including transportation, housekeeping and maintenance, nursing, medical and other costs.

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