High School Senior Suffers Devastating Helmet to Helmet Collision

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.

athlete brain injury

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.