Mom of Sachem High teen killed in football training mishap settles suit
A lawsuit filed by the mother of a Sachem High School East football player who died in 2017 after a 400-pound log fell on his head during an offseason campus training drill has ended in a seven-figure settlement, according to her attorneys.
The family will not keep any of the settlement money for themselves, and plan to use the funds for academic and athletic scholarships in memory of the player, Joshua Mileto, a junior who died from his injuries at a summer football camp at the high school in Farmingville. Some of the money will also go toward advocacy for policies to tighten regulations governing youth-sports safety, according to one of the family's attorneys, Marcelo A. Buitrago of Manhattan.
Further terms of the settlement — the suit was against Sachem Central School District and the Sachem East Touchdown Club, a parent-run booster group that sponsored the camp being held on school grounds — were bound by a confidentiality agreement, according to Buitrago.
The suit, filed in 2017 by Mileto’s mother, Sayyida Lynn Archarski-Mileto, and settled last month, alleged negligence and wrongful death, Buitrago said.
"They don’t want anything from this. This was never about the money for them. Ever," Buitrago said Wednesday in an interview. "This was about preventing it from happening again."
Mileto, 16, of Farmingville, had been participating in an Aug. 10, 2017, strength and conditioning camp at the school, carrying the log with four other youths above their heads and shoulders. The log fell and struck Mileto during a relay race.
The youth in the rear of the line had lost his balance, and then his grip; all but Mileto managed to get out of the way in time, according to Rick Lasher, another attorney on the case.
Buitrago said he could not say whether the defendants admitted fault, although both had denied fault earlier in court papers. A third lawyer involved in the case had previously said that the family sought $15 million.
In an interview in 2018 commemorating the anniversary of the teen’s death, his mother fought back tears as she grasped to find words to describe her family’s pain over the loss of Joshua, the second of four sons.
"I still wait for his bedroom door to open and for him to just come out," she said. "There are days when I cry all day."
In a statement sent by the district's public relations agency, the superintendent, Christopher J. Pellettieri, said: "The district was recently notified of a settlement agreement pertaining to this accident. Although this announcement signifies closure to the legal component of this tragedy, the grief, loss and continued efforts to heal and unite will remain for years to come."
Buitrago said both defendants were represented by separate insurance companies, which both decided to settle the case.
He likened Mileto’s death to dropping a hammer on a nail: Mileto, a middle linebacker and receiver, was 5-foot-6; the youths at each end of the log were each about 6-foot-1.
"Our client Josh was in the middle of two children who were much taller than him," Buitrago said, adding: "The weight distribution was ridiculous. It defies the logic of physics."
He said the youths were inadequately supervised.
In 2019, a separate lawsuit by families of players who saw Mileto die was dismissed by a state appeals court on timeliness grounds.
Buitrago and Lasher, his law partner, said among the family’s plans are to use the settlement money to benefit the local Little League — Mileto also played baseball — as well as to sponsor scholarships and fundraisers in the community.
"This should never happen to another family ever again," Lasher said. "If the Miletos are able to do with this money something so no other family feels the pain that they have felt over the last three and a half years, that will be a win for them."
Said Buitrago: "No parent would want to be them."
The family’s advocacy efforts, the teen’s mom said in a statement sent by the attorneys, is being called Live 4 Josh.