I blogged recently about an ongoing lawsuit that was targeted at football helmet manufacturer Riddell. A Colorado jury has awarded $11.5m to Rhett Ridolfi, a teenager who suffered brain injuries in 2008. The Colorado jury determined that Riddell was 27% responsible for the injuries, which equates to approximately $3.1 million of the damages. The court found that the helmet was not defective in design, but that Riddell had not done enough to promote the risk and awareness of brain injuries. Riddell is currently facing a similar lawsuit in Los Angeless and a complaint by thousands of former NFL players, who are also taking aim at the NFL.
What sparked my interest with this story is that I can see this happening in hockey as well. Head injuries and concussions have become increasingly – and sadly – common in the NHL and other European professional leagues. Whilst there have been advancements made in hockey helmet technologies to improve protection there has also been a huge uptick in the claims made by manufacturers that their products provide best protection against concussions and reduce impact forces.
What intrigues me is that, is hockey and the manufacturers open to a similar lawsuit? Some helmets that are in use today, do not make adequate reference to brain injuries or make clear enough clarifications that helmets do not protect fully from brain injuries. Remember, the brain is like a passenger in your skull and no helmet in the world can stop impact (be it with another player or ice) from causing a brain injury.
Having suffered through a brain injury and it leaving me with long lasting, permanent damage, it is a topic that is close to the heart and it will be interesting to see, whether there will be similar law suits considered against professional hockey leagues and equipment manufacturers as a result of the Riddell decisions. I know there are many professional players whose careers were cut short due to a brain injury and some who still struggle with symptoms on a day-to-day basis, years from their respective injuries.