MUNICIPAL LAW – U.S. District Court for E.D. of Pennsylvania dismisses 42 U.S.C. § 1983 arising out of high school football concussions

2015-07-13 | Kathryn M. Cunningham
kmcunningham@jacksonokeefe.com

Category: Municipal Law

Kathryn M. Cunningham

The plaintiff was a member of the JV football team when he blacked out during a game after a hit.  After complaining of head and hand pain, he was allegedly put back in the game without being examined, and was involved in another collision, knocking him unconscious.  Thereafter he allegedly experienced dizziness, cognition problems, and other post-concussive symptoms, and alleged that his academic ability was forever diminished and that his life prospects were “altered”.  The plaintiff alleged that the school created a situation where coaches, trainers and other staff were inadequately prepared to recognize and react to a concussion. In dismissing the 1983 claim for an alleged violation of his civil rights by the school, the Court found that the school did not have a policy, practice or custom of ignoring concussion injuries. “There was a mandatory screening for all coaches of the United States Department of Health and Human Services CDS Instructional video entitled ‘Heads up Concussions in High School Sports.’ Mr. Grothmann believes that ‘in his 13 years of serving as the Athletic Trainer at West Chester Area School District, [the plaintiff] is the only student who has alleged that he (or she) told an athletic coach that he (or she) was suffering from headaches or head issues and was re-inserted into a game without being reported to the athletic trainer.’  There were nine reported concussions on the varsity and junior varsity football teams combined between August 2006 and May 2010, and there is no evidence to suggest that the coaches and trainers did not follow the aforementioned concussion protocol in each case.” Croce v. W. Chester Sch. Dist., No. CIV.A. 13-6831, 2015 WL 1565834 (E.D. Pa. Apr. 8, 2015)

While the Court in this case found no liability, the Court seemingly left the door open to future attempts to assert § 1983 claims.  While this case was decided in a federal court in Pennsylvania, since the claim was based on a federal civil rights statute, the same analysis may apply here in Connecticut.

Jackson O’Keefe, LLP has been practicing in the Connecticut municipal law field since the 1950s.  Jackson O’Keefe was co-founded by a former Insurance Commissioner for the State of Connecticut. The firm has received the highest Martindale-Hubbell peer-review rating of “AV.”  It is also recognized in the Bar Register of Preeminent Attorneys. Additionally, several of our partners have been peer-reviewed by Thomson Reuters as “Super Lawyers,” qualifying as among the top five percent of practicing attorneys in Connecticut. We are also active participants in Defense Research Institute (DRI) and the Claims and Litigation Management (CLM) Alliance, and employ best practices in our representation. 

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