Former DC United goalkeeper sues club, Fabian Espindola and Ben Olsen over career ending concussion

Former D.C. United goalkeeper Charlie Horton has filed a lawsuit against Fabian Espindola, Ben Olsen, D.C. United, and MLS over injuries sustained during an alleged assault on his person by Espindola.

Olsen and D.C. United are being sued for failing to adequately supervise former teammate Espindola, despite knowledge of previous on-field incidents involving the player. Espindola had previously been suspended six games in 2014 for shoving a referee, and another two matches in 2014 for violent conduct directed at another player.

According to the lawsuit, Horton was attacked by Espindola on March 29th, 2016, following an argument over a training incident two weeks earlier.  Espindola allegedly approached Horton to rekindle the argument, but Horton walked away, telling the MLS veteran he wasn’t interested in continuing the discussion. Espindola then allegedly “viciously struck Mr. Horton in the left temple with his elbow,” before the two were separated.

Despite Horton’s claims that he felt the early symptoms of a concussion immediately after Espindola hit him, including “dizziness, shakiness” and light sensitivity, the lawsuit states he was not entered into the MLS Concussion Protocol and he practiced shortly after the alleged assault.

When his symptoms worsened over that evening and the following day, Horton reported his condition to the D.C. United training staff. Only then, after being seen by the team physician, was Horton diagnosed with a concussion and entered MLS’s Concussion Protocol.

Horton, who is 22, has since retired following the incident, naming enduring concussion symptoms as the cause of his premature retirement. “Due to the severity of his ongoing post-concussive neurological symptoms, which directly inhibited his ability to perform at a level necessary to continue his professional career, Mr. Horton was forced to officially retire from professional soccer.”

Horton is seeking compensatory and punitive damages to be determined at trial for assault and battery.