Family of Scranton Prep staffer sues over fatal accident at Valley View football field

As it appeared in the Scranton Times-Tribune

KATHLEEN BOLUS, STAFF WRITER

The family of a longtime Scranton Prep staffer, who died after an accident during a 2016 football game, sued the Valley View School District and its football stadium contractors and engineers for neglecting to comply with field standards.

Anthony L. “Taps” Cantafio, 67, died after he was struck by a Valley View football player during a game on Sept. 30, 2016. Attorney Harry P. McGrath Jr. filed the lawsuit Friday on behalf of Cantafio’s wife, Joanne Cantafio, and his son, Anthony M. Cantafio, against the district in Archbald, Highland Associates, Clarks Summit, and general contractor, S.G. Mastriani Construction Management Inc, Scranton. The family is seeking in excess of $50,000.

The lawsuit claims negligence and wrongful death against the district, Highland and Mastriani for allowing dangerous conditions to exist at a field that does not comply with the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association and National Federation of State High School Associations guidelines. It also claims emotional distress since Anthony M. Cantafio was at the game when his father was hit.

Cantafio taught mathematics for 31 years at Scranton Prep and was a baseball coach and statistician for the basketball and football teams.

Cantafio was standing on the visitors side in a designated area of Valley View’s John Henzes Memorial Stadium when a Valley View player chased by a Prep player came running towards the sidelines. Although he attempted to avoid being hit, Cantafio was struck head on, lifted from the ground and propelled two feet backwards, according to the lawsuit. He landed on the back of his head, fracturing his skull. Cantafio died from the injuries on Oct. 10, 2016.

The lawsuit claims, that unlike other high school football fields in Lackawanna County and the state, the stadium does not have a running track surrounding the field but instead the asphalt curb and surface which is 12 feet, 2 inches from the sideline of the football field

Valley View is a member of PIAA and is required to follow the rules and guidelines of the organization which enforces the standards of the NFHS. The NFHS Court and Field Diagram Guide requires a minimum of five yards or 15 feet from the sideline to the field/turf limits, the suit says.

“Defendants made a deliberate and conscious choice not to follow the PIAA and NFHS requirements,” the lawsuit states.

Valley View’s upgrade of its stadium in July of 2006 included the installation of an asphalt curb and surface surrounding the sidelines of the football field.

“The failure of defendants to take the necessary steps to protect individuals such as plaintiff from this known danger amounted to a conscious disregard for the health and safety of those individuals, including Mr. Cantafio,” the lawsuit says.

District solicitor Richard Fanucci, who has not received the claim, said he was aware of the suit and turned the matter over to the district’s liability insurance carrier.

“Unfortunately, the school district cannot offer any further comment regarding this litigation matter other than to state that the Valley View School District Community shares in the grief experienced by the Cantafio family over this most unfortunate and difficult to have predicted event,” Fanucci said.

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