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Image of Football Players
Football Players; image courtesy of Greyerbaby via Pixabay, www.pixabay.com

After losing his son in 2016, one father has decided to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the party he deems responsible for his son’s death. The father, Darren Hamblin, filed his lawsuit in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court against the manufacturers of the football helmets his son often wore while playing on his high school football team. According to Hamblin’s lawsuit, his son, Cody Hamblin, “died in 2016 after a seizure led to his drowning.” He claims Cody suffered from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), which ultimately led to seizure and death.

The defendants in the case include Riddell Sports Group and its parent company, Schutt Sports. In addition to claiming the company’s football helmets contributed to his son’s death, Hamblin also alleged “negligence, product liability, negligent misrepresentation, fraud and wrongful death.” But what happened, exactly? How did Cody sustain the neurological damage that made him susceptible to seizures?

Image of chronic traumatic encephalopathy
Image of chronic traumatic encephalopathy; image courtesy of Boston University Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy via Wikimedia Commons, https://commons.wikimedia.org

For starters, the lawsuit claims that Cody began playing football when he was eight years old, and continue playing throughout middle and high school. In 2011, it was discovered that he had “developed brain and neurological damage while using those companies’ helmets.” Hamblin claims he and his family “did not know the long-term effects of repeat brain injuries, subconcussive hits, and cumulative brain trauma and relied on the defendants to protect them.”

The lawsuit states:

“Upon information and belief, there are no specific safety standards for youth sports. In other words, (the companies’) ‘safety standards’ utilized in the design and manufacture of their tackle football helmets fail to differentiate between adult tackle football participants and children tackle football participants, despite the drastic and varying differences between the two…Children possess unique features and vulnerabilities not possessed by fully developed, exceptionally fit adult athletes.”

Hamblin also noted in his lawsuit that children, including his late son, “are more vulnerable to head, neck and brain injuries than adults because youth football players’ heads and brains are disproportionately large compared to the rest of their bodies.”

Hamblin lost his son Cody back on May 29, 2016. On that day, the boy and his grandfather were fishing when he suddenly had a “seizure while on a boat, fell overboard into the water and died within a minute,” according to the lawsuit.

It’s important to note, however, that Hamblin and his family didn’t learn that Cody had CTE until after his death because “CTE is only determined by postmortem analysis.” Shortly after his tragic death, an autopsy was performed on Cody that found evidence of CTE.

The autopsy findings were a big reason why Hamblin decided to file the lawsuit because he felt the companies involved in manufacturing and selling the helmets his son wore while playing football should have done more to worn families of the risks. His suit cites “design defects and accuses the companies of failing to provide necessary and adequate information and made misrepresentations about their products.”

Sources:

Dad of late ex-Ohio high school football player sues helmet makers

Father sues football helmet makers over son’s CTE-related death

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