While high-impact sports can be inherently dangerous at all levels, players wear protective gear to mitigate the risk of serious injury. If this protective gear fails, the consequences can be devastating for a player and their family in Pennsylvania. Riddell is the official helmet maker of the NFL, but also makes helmets that are supposed to protect many youth and high school football players around the nation as well. The helmet maker is coming under scrutiny amidst allegations of making defective football helmets.
The helmet maker is coming under criticism from both the professional and youth front for claims alleging that the maker is negligent when it comes to their helmets. The company is facing thousands of lawsuits from both former NFL players and critically injured youth players around the nation.
One lawsuit was issued by the family of a young man that suffered serious brain injuries because of a hit he received during his high school football practice in 2008. The suit alleged that both the helmet maker and the injured player’s coaches were responsible for the brain injuries suffered by this young man.
A Colorado jury recently awarded the family $11.5 million, assigning 27 percent fault to the helmet maker. The helmet design was not found by the jury to be defective, but the jury did find that Riddell was negligent in failing to warn helmet users of the dangers associated with concussions. The helmet maker reports that they plan on appealing the verdict that holds them liable for paying $3.1 million of the damages to this family.
This ruling is particularly significant because of all of the other lawsuits against this helmet maker. There has been a significant amount of media attention focused on football, and the evidence that repeated concussions can leave players with permanent brain damage. Whether or not this judgment is indicative of the trajectory of related lawsuits remains to be seen.
Source: The Vancouver Sun, “Jury finds helmet maker negligent,” Catherine T. Sai, April 15, 2013