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From Products Liability Law Daily, October 4, 2013

Former collegiate football players file class action alleging defective design and warnings by helmet manufacturer

By Pamela C. Maloney, J.D.

Two former college football players filed a class action complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana against the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and Riddell, Inc., a manufacturer of football helmets based on allegations that they failed to take effective action to protect players and/or to inform the players of the true risks associated with concussions, brain injury, and brain trauma (DuRocher v. National Collegiate Athletic Association, October 1, 2013).

Background. Two former college football players, John DuRocher and Darin Harris, filed a class action law suit on behalf of all former NCAA football players who sustained concussions or suffered concussion-like symptoms while playing football at an NCAA school and who had, since ending their NCAA careers, developed chronic headaches, choric dizziness or dementia or Alzheimer's diseases, and/or any other physical and mental problems as a result of the injuries they suffered while playing and who have incurred medical expenses from those injuries.

Allegations against helmet manufacturer. While the bulk of the complaint centered on the NCAA's alleged duty to warn players about the injuries associated with repeated brain trauma and concussions and to enact rules that protect players from those dangers, the former players also alleged both negligence and strict liability claims based on defective design and failure to warn against the helmet manufacturer. According to the complaint, the helmets were defective in design, unreasonably dangers, and unsafe for their intended purpose because they did not provide adequate protection against the foreseeable risk of concussive brain injuries and that the defective design and unreasonably dangerous condition of the helmet were a proximate cause of the injuries. The complaint also alleged that a safer alternative design was both economically and technologically feasible at the time the helmets left the manufacturer's control.

The complaint went on to allege that the manufacturer knew or should have known of the substantial dangers posed by the reasonably foreseeable use of the helmets, but that the manufacturer failed to provide adequate safety and instruction materials and warnings of the risk of concussive brain injuries while playing football as well as of the risk of long-term brain injury from repeated concussions. The complaint also alleged that the manufacturer should have advised players of the means available to reduce and/or minimize these risks.

Damages sought. In addition to seeking class certification, the players are seeking medical monitoring and compensatory damages (to be determined at trial) for the long-term and chronic injuries, financial losses, expenses, and other losses suffered by the members of the class.

The case number is: 1:13-cv-1570 SEB-DML.

Attorneys: Irwin B. Levin (Cohen & Malad LLP) for John DuRocher and Darin Harris.

Companies: National Collegiate Athletic Association; Ridell, Inc.

MainStory: TopStory DesignManufacturingNews WarningsNews SportsandRecEquipmentNews IndianaNews

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