Friday, September 18, 2020
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Was E. St. Louis football negligent about brain injury?

A former football player at East St Louis Senior High School in Illinois is suing the school district, his football coach, and the manufacturer of helmets worn by the team, claiming the coach placed winning above student safety and, as a result of that negligence, caused him to suffer irreversible brain damage, Courthouse News reports.

Demond Hunt Jr sued District 189, football coach Darren Sunkett, Schutt Holdings Inc, and Curt Smith Sporting Goods Inc, in St Clair County Circuit earlier this month, alleging willful misconduct, negligence, and product liability.

The defending Class 7A football champs—East St Louis has won eight state titles in football and is the alma mater of several NFL players—allegedly used a certain helmet back in 2008, when Mr Hunt was a student. The claim asserts that the helmet is equipped with an inflatable buffer zone, designed to protect the player’s head in a collision. Mr Hunt claims Mr Sunkett instructed him improperly about the equipment and, through that negligence, caused a serious brain injury, which has significantly diminished his mental capacity.

The lawsuit was previously filed in 2009 and was voluntarily dismissed with prejudice only last year, Courthouse News noted. The refiling, from a different attorney, falls within the statute of limitations, because the dismissal occurred less than a year ago.

A District 189 spokesperson said the district would continue to defend itself and its employees vigorously against this lawsuit but otherwise had no comment for news media.

Mr Hunt’s attorney, however, is talking. He told Courthouse News that District 189 “tolerated the coach’s policy of instructing student-athletes to engage in dangerous and high-risk behavior.”

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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