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California jury finds helmet maker not liable for football injury

Posted on in Catastrophic Injuries

The family of a former high school football player may be feeling a sense of injustice this month because of a decision that was handed down by a Los Angeles jury recently. The complaint before the Los Angeles Superior Court was against Riddell Inc., a company that manufactures safety helmets for sports players. The plaintiffs sought damages for the injuries the helmet failed to prevent.

According to the complaint, which was filed on behalf of the victim by his father, the helmet his son was wearing in a 2009 football game did not have special forehead padding that may have prevented the then 17-year-old from suffering a traumatic brain injury. The injury caused his son to lose consciousness shortly after leaving the field. He spent 11 days in a coma and needed to be hospitalized for 4 ½ months. The lawsuit contends that he will require around-the-clock care for the rest of his life.

But despite the fact that the now 21-year-old is partially paralyzed and unable to utter simple words, according to the Los Angeles Times, the jury denied the victim and his family the $37 million in compensation they sought in their personal injury lawsuit. According to court records, the jury may have ruled in favor of Ridell Inc. because of the violent way in which the teen’s head turned in the head-to-head collision. The jury may have also believed that no additional amount of padding could have prevented such an injury from occurring.

Although it’s unknown at this time, the victim’s family may decide to appeal their case. In a higher court, they may have another chance to argue their case, this time bolstered by similar lawsuits filed against helmet makers by NFL players.

Source: The San Gabriel Valley Tribune, “Helmet maker not liable for 2009 Gary High School football player’s brain injury, death,” City News Service, Mar. 21, 2014

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