• Kyodo

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The Kochi District Court on Monday threw out a compensation lawsuit filed by a 22-year-old man who lost his eyesight and was left partially paralyzed after being struck by lightning during a school soccer match.

Mitsutoshi Kitamura was a first year student of a private high school when he took part in the August 1996 soccer game in the city of Takatsuki, Osaka Prefecture.

He and his family had demanded some 300 million yen from the municipal government and others, saying that the organizers, which were affiliated with the city’s athletic association, should have suspended the match given the poor weather conditions.

But presiding Judge Hiromi Kameda ruled that it would have been difficult for officials to foresee lightning, given the weather situation that day. A suspension of the game was not warranted.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs said it is the first ruling on a compensation suit involving lightning.

Kitamura’s mother criticized the ruling as not taking the safety of children into consideration. She said it is strange that no one has been made to bear responsibility for the event.

Kitamura temporarily fell into a coma. He was discharged from a hospital about 18 months later, although he had lost his eyesight and most of the power to move his arms and legs.

The plaintiffs said they may appeal to a higher court.

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