A 13-year-old soccer player cannot be be held liable for injuries to a 12-year-old player that occurred when the younger player was kicked in the knee during the last two minutes of a close game, an appellate court has ruled.

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In its decision Wednesday, the Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey upheld an earlier decision involving a lawsuit filed by the family of a 12-year-old, identified in court documents as G.C., against a 13-year-old, identified in the case as T.U.

The appellate court upheld the lower court's decision to grant summary judgment to T.U. — saying the case couldn't move forward.

Also named in suit were several youth sports organizations, including NJ Youth Soccer Association, Roxbury Soccer Club and Mount Olive Soccer Club — all also granted summary judgment. But the 12-year-old's family only appealed the judgment in favor of the 13-year-old.

According to the court's summary in its decision, the younger player was "dribbling" the soccer ball to take a shot at the goal during the final two minutes of a close game

At that point, the older player attempted to catch up with the younger one and take the ball away. In the process, the judgement states, the older student kicked the other player.

The younger player's family alleges that the older player was being "reckless" during that final play and that his actions were unnecessarily rough and intentional.

According to the judgement, a referee testified that the older player "made a move for the ball, but he didn't have control of himself as he did and managed to catch the plaintiff after the shot went off."

The referee issued a yellow penalty card because the older player's contact with the 12-year-old "didn't conform with normal levels of play."

"Injuries are a part and parcel of minors playing in physical sports," the appellate court wrote, adding that there was no evidence to support the younger family's claim that the 13-year-old's conduct was reckless.

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