News of concussion injury lawsuits against the National Football League and helmet maker Ridell have not made headlines since Super Bowl XLVII. However, a jury in Colorado reached a verdict in a defective products case that sends an ominous warning about future concussion related products liability cases.
The case stems from a family whose son had suffered severe head injuries during a high school football practice in 2008. They claimed that Ridell failed to warn people wearing its helmets of the dangers posed by repeated blows to the head (which is part and parcel of playing football).
The jury found that Ridell was only partly responsible for the boy’s injuries (27 percent to be exact). However, it did not find that the helmets were dangerously defective. Ridell’s attorneys noted that the jury’s findings on this point were important because it supported the helmet maker’s contentions that there were no inherent defects that justified a products liability claim.
Product manufacturers have a duty to put safe products on the market. Moreover, they have a continuing duty to recall defective products. If they do not, they could be held liable for the resulting injuries that occur.
In the meantime, Ridell indicated that it plans to appeal the jury verdict (and the subsequent award), as it believes that the court wrongfully excluded testimony from an expert who would have testified about the helmet’s safety. Nevertheless, Ridell still faces similar lawsuits in California, as well as suits from former NFL players. As such, the news of concussion lawsuits will continue for the foreseeable future.
Source: VancouverSun.com, Jury finds helmet maker negligent, April 15, 2013