By: Allan M. Siegel
In 2009, Edward Acuna was a 17-year-old football with a bright future ahead
of him. He was the team captain, and he had just been accepted to Cal
State L.A. He had dreams of one day attending law school. On an October
night, Edward Acuna was on the field as a defensive lineman for Pomona's
Garey High. In the 4th quarter he sustained a violent helmet to helmet
collision. He got up jogged to the sidelines, collapsed, lost consciousness,
and spent the next 11 days in a coma. He awoke paralyzed with devastating
speech and cognitive deficits. He remained in the hospital for over four
months. He now takes special education classes to relearn every aspect
of life such as tying his shoes, eating, and brushing his teeth.
A lawsuit was filed against the helmet maker Riddell for manufacturing
a helmet with deficient padding. Acuna's attorneys argued that the injury may not have been catastrophic
if the padding were made of vinyl nitrile rather than polyurethane. The
defense lawyers argued that polyurethane was the superior padding, and
added that Peyton Manning wore the same model helmet in the Super Bowl.
The defense lawyer stated "it doesn't matter how many times we
get sued, we're never going to put that padding our helmet."
In a similar case last year, a Colorado jury awarded $3.1 million dollars
to a boy who suffered a
traumatic brain injury in a Riddell helmet. However, the jury did not find that the helmet was
defective. Instead the jury found that Riddell failed to adequately warn
players of the possibility of concussions. The jury in Acuna's case
did not find that the Ridell helmet was defective, and did not hold Riddell
responsible for this devastating traumatic brain injury.
We hope that the jury verdict does not prevent Riddell and other helmet
manufacturers from improving their product, and making them safer to prevent
brain injuries. In addition to improving the safety of these products,
coaching, rules, practice protocols, and return to play guidelines can
all be changed not just lessen the severity of traumatic brain injuries
but rather to prevent them. Today, Edward Acuna passes his leisure time
by playing pre-school level games on his iPad. But, He deserves to be
living out the bright future he had in store, and the rules of the game
and a safer helmet may have protected that future.
If you or a loved one have suffered a brain injury and believe that someone's
negligence or neglect may have caused it, please do not hesitate to contact
a Northern Virginia brain injury lawyers at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata
& Siegel, P.C.