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Helmet Maker Not Liable for High School Player Brain Injury

Four years ago a teen was playing high school football for Pomona High School in California. During a game, the young man was involved in a play where he and another player struck one another helmet-to-helmet. The tackle left him partially paralyzed, with brain damage. On behalf of the player, who was 17-years-old at the time, his family filed suit against Ridell Revolution, the makers of the helmet that was worn by the young man at the time of the accident. According to Fox Sports, the plaintiff’s attorneys argued that the company did not use the best materials when manufacturing the helmet. They reportedly asserted that “a high density vinyl nitrile padding would have provided more protection than the helmet’s polyeurethane material,” lessening Acuna’s injuries.

According to the Los Angeles Daily News, attorneys for Ridell counter-argued that their helmets out-perform all safety standards worldwide. They reportedly stated that vinyl nitrate padding is less safe than the polyeurethane material that is currently utilized. The company’s attorney stated that the company is “never going to put that padding in our helmets.” They also argued that the teen’s injuries were not a result of the actual hit, but were instead caused by a violent turn of his head during the play.

The young man’s brain injuries are irreversible. The Los Angeles Daily News reported that he ran to the sideline of the football field after the tackle. He then collapsed onto the ground and lost consciousness. He was comatose for 11 days and spent an additional four and a half months in the hospital. According to his attorneys, he will need 24-hour care for the remainder of his life. They requested a jury award of $37 million for hospital expenses and lost wages, along with pain and suffering.

The Jury’s Determination
After four weeks of testimony, it took the jury less than 30 minutes to conclude that the “Ridell Revolution helmet could not have been expected to prevent the injury.” Four members of the National Football League (NFL) have also sued Ridell, asserting that the company worked with NFL officials to cover up information about brain injuries within the league. That lawsuit is still in litigation. The Ridell Revolution website contains a warning for potential buyers of their helmet, which reads that “no helmet can prevent serious head or neck injuries a player might receive while participating in football.”

Football Concerns
Concerns within the professional football league have also spread to the college, high school and recreation league levels. Many school systems now require parents to attend information sessions on brain injuries and concussions. There is a widespread effort to educate players, coaches and parents about the potential dangers of football and important tactics for prevention. According to a report by National Public Radio, football helmets are important tools of protection because they spread the force of an impact to the head. However, helmets are not perfect in their design. While they protect the skull from breaking, they do not fully prevent the brain from moving around inside of the skull.

If you or a child has suffered a brain injury, please do not hesitate to contact Levin & Perconti at to discuss your case.

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