COMING TO A HEAD: Father sues football helmet makers over son’s CTE-related death

Image courtesy: Scienceblogs.comThe father of a star high school football player who allegedly died of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE)-related injuries has filed the first lawsuit on behalf of a CTE-afflicted youth player against football helmet manufacturers.

This summer, Darren Hamblin filed a suit against Riddell and the owner of Schutt Sports on behalf of his late son, Cody, alleging negligent misrepresentation, negligent product liability, fraud and wrongful death. Cody Hamblin played tackle football from approximately 2001 through at least 2011, using helmets from both manufacturers.

On May 29, 2016, Hamblin, then 22, was fishing with his grandfather on a boat and suddenly had a seizure, causing him to fall overboard and drown, according to the suit. Doctors then determined he had CTE.

CTE is a degenerative brain disease found in athletes, military veterans, and others with a history of repetitive brain trauma. In CTE, a protein called Tau forms clumps that slowly spread throughout the brain, killing brain cells. CTE has been seen in people as young as 17, but symptoms do not generally begin appearing until years after the onset of head impacts. Early symptoms of CTE usually appear in a patient’s late 20s or 30s, and often affect a patient’s mood and behavior. Some common changes seen include impulse control issues, aggression, depression and paranoia.

Since CTE tends to develop later in life, Hamblin must be able to show that CTE caused his son’s seizure and that CTE was a direct result of improper sporting equipment.

“I think this is a bizarre test case,” a source close to the defense said, since the family has to prove not only that football caused CTE, but also that CTE caused the seizure. “The seizure could have been caused by anything.”

Hamblin’s father in the suit says he “did not know the long-term effects of repeat brain injuries, sub-concussive hits and cumulative brain trauma and relied on the defendants to protect them.”
“There are no specific safety standards for youth sports,” plaintiffs allege in the suit. “The helmet was not designed for minors. There are known design defects, inadequate fitting instructions, and inadequate adult manufacturing standards applied towards an even more vulnerable population, child athletes.”

Meanwhile, thousands of former NFL players are suing Riddell in a case that used to be connected to the 2017-settled $1 billion suit against the NFL for living players who retired before July 7, 2014. That Riddell case is still being heard.

If your child is playing football this season, take the time to ensure his helmet meets the safety requirements set forth by the National Operating Committee of Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE®). Visit the site to learn more about keeping student athletes safe this football season.

If you or a loved has suffered injuries or wrongful death as a result of someone else’s neglience, call Attorney Steve Hoskins today for a free consultation. Attorney Steve Hoskins has been recognized by the Supreme Court of Florida as a Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer, a distinction earned by only 1 percent of attorneys in the State of Florida. Highly skilled, tough and strategic, Mr. Hoskins has over 37 years of experience and has obtained over $500 million in verdicts and settlements for injured victims and their families along the Treasure Coast. His experienced team of auto accident and personal injury lawyers, investigators, specialists and paralegals are ready to defend your rights and obtain the care and financial security you deserve. There are no fees or costs unless we win a settlement for you.

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