Riddell faces lawsuit by another high school football player who suffered traumatic brain injury

by Michael Heygood

Edward Acuna was a 17-year-old high school senior when he was playing at his school’s homecoming football game in 2009. Acuna took a hit to the front of his helmet during the fourth quarter. He fell down, stumbled to the sideline, lost consciousness, and collapsed. He was airlifted to a hospital where he received an emergency craniotomy to counter the brain hemorrhaging and swelling caused by the head injury. He was diagnosed with a left subdural hematoma that led to severe and lasting physical, mental, and nervous system pain and suffering and resulting permanent disability. He is partially paralyzed and will require life-long treatment and care.

At the time he was hit, Acuna was wearing a Riddell Sports Inc. helmet. A lawsuit filed against Riddel alleges that a pad located on the front of the helmet was defective and that Riddell knew of the potential dangers associated with this particular defect since at least 2000, yet failed to perform sufficient safety tests and inspections to remedy it. The lawsuit is seeking unspecified damages against Riddell and its subsidiaries for product liability, for punitive damages for alleged careless and reckless design, manufacture, marketing and distribution of a defective helmet and for failing to adequately warn of the potential risks and dangers associated with the helmet. The case is Edward Acuna vs. Riddell Sports, Inc., et al., Superior Court, Los Angeles County (Van Nuys) Case No. LC090924 and was to go to trial this month.

The most recent trial against Riddell resulted in a Colorado jury finding Riddell Sports Inc. negligent and ordering the company to pay $3.1 million in damages to a former high school football player that suffered a similar brain injury in 2008. The Colorado lawsuit claimed that Riddell failed to adequately warn players about the potential concussion dangers whilst wearing their helmets. Riddell is also named in a lawsuit filed against the National Football League by over 4,000 former players who claim the league fraudulently withheld the long-term risks of brain damage associated with concussions.

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a serious public health problem in the United States, according to Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The CD reports that each year, traumatic brain injuries contribute to a substantial number of deaths and cases of permanent disability. Every year, at least 1.7 million TBIs occur either as an isolated injury or along with other injuries.

Traumatic brain injury is caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the normal function of the brain. Not all blows or jolts to the head result in a TBI. The severity of a TBI may range from “mild,” i.e., a brief change in mental status or consciousness to “severe,” i.e., an extended period of unconsciousness or amnesia after the injury.

There an estimated 300,000 sports-related traumatic brain injuries of mild to moderate severity, most of which can be classified as concussions, (i.e., conditions of temporary altered mental status as a result of head trauma) occurring in the United States each year. There is an increased risk for subsequent TBI among persons who have had at least one previous TBI . Repeated mild brain injuries occurring over an extended period (i.e., months or years can result in cumulative neurologic and cognitive deficits, but repeated mild brain injuries occurring within a short period (i.e., hours, days, weeks) can be catastrophic or fatal.

HO&P & Defective Helmet Litigation

To successfully bring a claim involving a defective football helmet, clients need an experienced, educated attorney on their side. They also need an attorney with the financial resources to take the case to trial. At Heygood, Orr & Pearson, we have tried literally hundreds of cases to verdict and have settled hundreds more.

Our firm is AV-rated, the highest legal and ethical rating available from the leading law firm rating service. Our partners Michael Heygood, Jim Orr, and Eric Pearson are all Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Mr. Heygood and Mr. Orr are additionally Board Certified in Civil Trial Advocacy Law by the National Board of Trial Advocacy. Our partners been voted by their peers as “Super Lawyers” in the state of Texas for several years in a row.*

If you have suffered a serious personal injury or a loved one has suffered a serious injury or death as the result of the actions of another person or entity, you may have a claim for compensation. Contact the lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson for your free case evaluation and to learn more about your legal right to compensation. You can reach us by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001, or by filling out the free legal consultation form on this page.


Michael Heygood, James Craig Orr, Jr. and Eric Pearson were selected to the Super Lawyers List, a Thomson Reuters publication, for the years 2003 through 2013.