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Ohio father sues helmet maker over son's wrongful death

A grieving Ohio man has filed a lawsuit against a helmet maker and the sports store that sold it over the death of his 22-year old son. The young man died in 2016 due to brain injuries he suffered playing football as a youth. This lawsuit may eventually open a sort of floodgate.

After the young man collapsed and died, it was determined that he had a brain disorder known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). It's a degenerative disorder that has been in the news quite a bit in recent years because of the revelation that it is closely tied to sports injuries — including those from football. Many former National Football League (NFL) players have suffered from the disease.

The discoveries have revealed that the damage players suffered to their brains was a sort of open secret in some circles. Players were often misled about the real dangers in the name of a good game while coaches, leagues, team doctors and others were aware that there was a significant risk of harm to the players.

In the lawsuit filed by the Ohio father, it's alleged that the helmet makers knew as far back as 2000 that the risk to youthful athletes was higher than the risk to adults. Yet, they continued to put stickers on youth football helmets that indicated they meet a specific standard of safety. They did so despite the fact that the helmets weren't even tested for use on children. This misrepresentation misled parents into believing that the helmets would keep their children safe from serious danger during tackles.

The sports store chain that sold the helmets is being named in a connected lawsuit because product liability laws hold anyone in the chain of distribution liable for negligence that harms a consumer or leads to a wrongful death.

If the suit is successful, it will likely pave the way for other lawsuits by other grieving parents — and possibly by players who suffered brain injuries as teenagers without realizing the full extent of the damage or the effect it would have on their futures.

Source: The San Diego Union-Tribune, "Ohio dad is first to sue youth helmet makers for death of son," Tod Leonard, June 01, 2018

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