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Pop Warner Settles Lawsuit Regarding Concussions

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When most of us think of Pop Warner, we remember good times playing football on the weekend with our friends. Others will remember bringing their kids to the fields and watching them play football. While bumps and bruises definitely happen, most kids make it through Pop Warner without so much as a scar. However, according to a recent lawsuit filed against the organization, a brain injury suffered by a juvenile during his days with the league eventually led him to suicide.

The Specifics of the Case

Debra Pyka of Hixton, Wisconsin filed the lawsuit against Pop Warner claiming that back in 1998, her son—then 11-years-old—sufffered a concussion while playing football. After over a decade of living with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, her then 25-year-old son finally hung himself.

While the problem is alleged to have happened sometime around 1998, the suit also goes on to suggest that there were repetitive injuries that followed after. At some point, though, the result was chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

In the suit, Pop Warner is held responsible for allowing young children to take part in a sport that can cause these types of injuries. While the organization has taken measures to limit contact and tackles, that wasn’t enough to keep the suit from being filed against them.

Understanding Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy is a progressive degenerative disease that attacks the brain. It’s also most common amongst athletes, though others may suffer from it as well. The reason why it’s usually found in athletes, though, is because it results from repeated injuries that cause brain trauma.

Symptomatic concussions are typically involved. However, asymptomatic subconcusive hits to the head can also be the cause behind chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

This disease is especially common with boxers and has been diagnosed in these athletes since 1920. Unfortunately, for a number of reasons, it has probably spread to other sports like football. Of course, sadly, a lot of these sports involve very young participants, as in the case of Pop Warner football players.

The Outcome

As we mentioned at the beginning, Pop Warner settled the lawsuit with the victim’s mother. While the terms weren’t disclosed, the amount sought in the suit was $5 million, plus punitive damages.

For their part, Pop Warner points out that the young man also played other sports that could have been responsible for his untimely end. He was a high school wrestler and pole-vaulter, for example. According to the mother’s attorney, though, this is inconsequential. Their suit only needed to prove that youth football played a role in the onset of chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

Possible Ramifications

It’s no secret that football is perhaps the most popular sport in the entire country. “Concussion” was a recent film that starred Will Smith and took a look at the real-life story of the doctor who pursued the NFL for the brain damage regularly inflicted on athletes.

Now, though, it may be youth football that’s put on its heels. While we mentioned above that Pop Warner has already taken some measures to protect its players, it’s possible that this lawsuit may create other rules addressing contact, tackles and possible head injuries.

There’s no doubt that this story is an extremely sad one. It should also serve as a warning to other parents, though, as a reminder of what’s possible when playing a sport so many of us take for granted (or even played when we were kids). If you ever suspect that your child has suffered from a head injury, it would be wise to see a specialist immediately and not allow your kid to play again until they’ve been medically cleared.

Sources:

http://www.nbcmiami.com/news/sports/Pop-Warner-Settles-Lawsuit-Over-Youth-Football-Concussions-371607621.html

http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/mom-suing-pop-warner-wants-stop-pre-teen-tackle-football-n301896