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Lawsuit Highlights CTE Concern in Youth Football

The initial media frenzy surrounding the well-known lawsuit from former professional football players against the National Football League highlighted the grave consequences of serious and repeated traumatic brain injuries, as well as their link to the development of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (“CTE”). Since the beginning of that lawsuit, other professional sports players have followed suit. Lawsuits have also arisen from college athletes and other nonprofessional sports players throughout the country. Recently, Sports Illustrated reported on a lawsuit advocating for even younger victims of traumatic brain injuries during athletics has been filed against a national organization that provides youth football and cheer & dance programs. The lawsuit seeks to have CTE listed on the helmets of youth football players in the hopes that it will serve as a warning to parents and participants of the danger of traumatic brain injuries and their consequences for youth sports players.

The Issue

CTE is a concern for professional athletes, and more research has indicated it should also be a concern for youth sports players. One of the named plaintiffs in this lawsuit became suspicious about the potential long-term effects of sports-related traumatic brain injuries on her son, who tragically passed away after crashing his motorcycle at high speed. The crash was similar to other erratic, reckless behavior the man had demonstrated in the last two years of his life. Having heard about the professional sports lawsuits that were pending at the time of her son’s death, the mother consulted with plaintiffs in that lawsuit and became suspicious that her young son may have also suffered from CTE. She made the difficult decision to have her son’s brain tested, and results indicated that he did indeed suffer from CTE. Along with the mother of another young man that had committed suicide after also suffering from CTE, they filed the current lawsuit against the youth sports organization.

Class Action Suits

For now, only the two mothers noted above are named in the lawsuit which has been filed in a federal district court. So far, that does not qualify the lawsuit as a class action lawsuit. A class action lawsuit allows named plaintiffs to sue a defendant or group of defendants on behalf of themselves and those suffering similar alleged harms caused by the defendant or defendants. As the suit has been filed in a federal court, allowing it to have class action lawsuit status is governed by Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 23(A). Under this rule, class action law suits have four requirements that must be met before a judge can certify a “class” of people as plaintiffs in a lawsuit. These four elements are:

  1.     Numerosity: a requirement that states that the plaintiffs in the lawsuit are so numerous that they cannot reasonably be joined together as named plaintiffs in the lawsuit;
  2.     Commonality: a requirement that the questions related to law and/or fact to be addressed for each plaintiff are similar;
  3.     Typicality: a requirement that states that claims of plaintiffs within the class typically arose from the same action of the defendant(s); and
  4.     Adequacy: a requirement that named plaintiffs will fairly and adequately protect the interests of all class members.

Each of these factors requires a judge to weigh a number of different, intricate elements that an attorney with experience in handling such lawsuits can explain to participants.

This lawsuit is being pursued as a survival action lawsuit, meaning that the right to sue over this action originally belonged to the young men that died. Upon their death, that right passed on to the young men’s estates and, in this case, the mothers of the deceased young men. These types of lawsuits are distinctly different from wrongful death lawsuits, which are brought by someone with the standing to do so alleging that the negligence of someone else wrongfully caused a victim’s death.

Legal Assistance

Traumatic brain injuries require not only an intricate understanding of the laws governing personal injury lawsuits seeking to recover damages for traumatic brain injuries and subsequent complications, but also an understanding of traumatic brain injuries themselves. The personal injury attorneys at Levin & Perconti have spent a great deal of time researching traumatic brain injuries and resulting complications for numerous clients in Illinois, and can put the knowledge gained through their dedicated work into practice for you. If you or a loved one have suffered a traumatic brain injury or serious complications, either because of negligence, inadequate warnings, or misdiagnosis from a medical professional, it is important to contact a personal injury attorney that has experience handling these types of lawsuits. Contact the personal injury team at Levin & Perconti to schedule a consultation to discuss the circumstances of your potential claim and learn more about the options available to you.

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