Riddell Intends to Vigorously Defend Its Reputation Against Hernandez Lawsuit
Riddell, the Des Plaines, Illinois, football helmet maker founded in 1929, has indicated it intends to defend its products and reputation against concussion-oriented lawsuits like the one filed on behalf of the late New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez. The lawsuit names the company and the NFL as defendants.
Riddell, in a statement, said it “is well prepared to defend these claims to the full vindication of Riddell’s products and reputation.” Company representatives stated further that Riddell introduced helmets constructed to fend against concussion risks more than fifteen years ago and has built its reputation on this
Hernandez’s attorneys filed the federal suit last month after Hernandez committed suicide in prison. The player was discovered hanging in his cell at Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center where he was serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole for the murder of Odin Lloyd. Massachusetts Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Henry N. Nields ruled that he died from asphyxia.
Odin Lloyd was murdered on June 17, 2013, and Hernandez was arrested on June 26, 2013, nine days after the man’s death. Police also arrested two other men in connection with Lloyd’s death: Carlos Ortiz on June 27, 2013, and Ernest Wallace on June 28, 2013. Both men were convicted of guilty of accessory after the fact.
Ninety minutes after his arrest, Hernandez was released by the Patriots, and on April 15, 2015, the former player was found guilty of first-degree murder as well as five weapon charges. He was also tried for two separate homicides – the 2012 double homicide of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado, but was acquitted on April 14, 2017.
An autopsy revealed Hernandez had been suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a disease of the brain found in individuals who have suffered repeated concussions. In September, his lawyer Jose Baez had vowed to conduct his own independent investigation and announced brain scans by the Boston University Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy Center found Hernandez indeed had advanced Stage 3 CTE, bordering Stage 4, which has historically been linked to suicide and depression. The former football player had the brain function of a 67-year-old when he took his life.
The lawsuit, filed in Norfolk County Superior Court in Massachusets, alleges that “Aaron experienced a chaotic and horrendous existence in many respects, due to his undiagnosed brain injury”. The lawsuit claims further that both Riddell and the NFL spread “false science” to the public and systematically failed “to actually seek to reduce injury risks in football through good-faith science.” In other words, it accuses the NFL of conspiring with Riddell to keep the dangers of football a secret.
The attorneys are seeking damages for Hernandez’s daughter, stating the actions of the NFL and Riddell ultimately “deprived [Avielle Hernandez] of the companionship and society of her father … during his lifetime.”
When originally filed, the New England Patriots are also identified as being liable. However, the case was refiled and the new filing dropped the team as a defendant. Hernandez’s attorneys say the Patriots will be hit with a “separate action” later on.