While a Colorado jury recently decided that a football helmet was not defectively designed, it has reportedly awarded an injured high school football player $3.1 million, finding that the helmet’s manufacturer failed to warn him about the risks of concussion. Ridolfi v. Begano, No. 2010-cv-58 (Colo. Dist. Ct., Las Animas Cnty., verdict entered April 13, 2013). The jury also found the plaintiff’s coaches at fault; they will not be required to pay their share of a total $11.5 million verdict due to their immunity as government employees. The plaintiff, who has allegedly sustained permanent and irreversible brain damage, was cleared by his coaches to continue practicing after undergoing a concussion and was not brought to a hospital until he began stumbling and slurring his speech.
According to a news source, the company, which has had a string of victories in cases disputing helmet safety, plans to appeal the verdict and will likely argue that the trial court erred in excluding one of its expert witnesses. In 2012, a Mississippi federal jury rejected liability in a similar personal injury suit, and a Florida federal judge dismissed a putative class action challenging company claims that its helmets reduce the likelihood of concussions. Another lawsuit against the company filed by an injured football player was expected to go to trial in California this month. See Law360, April 15, 2013.