Helmet maker sued for alleged football death

Protective gear, such as football helmets, may not prevent catastrophic injuries despite assurances from manufacturers and athletic teams. A father in Ohio is believed to be the first person to sue a helmet maker for fatal head injuries his son suffered when playing football.

The lawsuit was filed in Ohio and Los Angeles against Riddell and the owner of Schutt Sports on his son's behalf. The father charged that the defendants engaged in misrepresentation and did not protect the plaintiffs or warn them of the increased risks of playing football despite scientific and medical information linking the risk of long-term brain injury from repeated injuries, sub-concussive blows and cumulative brain trauma.

His son wore helmets manufactured by Rydell and Schutt when he played football from 2001 through 2011. He died on May 29, 2016, when he was 22 years-old, after suffering a seizure on a boat while fishing with his grandfather at Lake Lorelai near Fayetteville, Ohio. He collapsed into the lake and drowned.

His parents gave their son's brain to an Illinois hospital. Doctors discovered that he suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, also known as "CTE." CTE is a degenerative brain condition that can result from playing tackle football.

The plaintiffs charged negligent misrepresentation, negligent product liability, fraud and wrongful death. The lawsuit was filed in Ohio because he played football in that state, and in California where the defendants engage in business and have offices.

According to the lawsuit, the defendants knew in 2000 that impacts in football can pose a 95 percent chance of brain injury for adult players. However, the defendants continued to affix a sticker to youth helmets claiming that the equipment met the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment standard. This sticker created a false assurance that the helmet was tested for safety and injury protection, according to the lawsuit.

An attorney may be able to help brain injury victims and their families seek compensation for injuries caused by negligence or defective equipment. They can attempt to help obtain evidence and pursue rights in court or settlement negotiations.

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