Expert Witness Weighs In on Concussion Case

By Cadie Carroll

After serving as an expert witness in the case of Scotty Eveland, Dr. Andrew Blecher shared his thoughts on this high school student’s “football-game-gone-wrong” experience and lent some insight on how to prevent similar future cases from arising.

Case Background

Scotty Eveland, a backup middle linebacker for the Mission Hills High School football team in San Marcos, California, got his first chance to play under the bright stadium lights when the starting linebacker was injured.

Allegedly, Eveland complained of headaches during practice before his chance to start in his first game. Also alleged, directly before the game, was that Eveland’s headaches were so severe that he was experiencing blurred vision bad enough to not allow him to see the football clearly. It was also noted that he even stated he did not feel well enough to play.

Reportedly, Eveland then saw his head athletic trainer who agreed that he should not be put in the game. However, upon notifying the head coach of their thoughts, Eveland and the athletic trainer did not receive the reply they expected.

In an expletive-laden response, the head coach allegedly claimed that Eveland was his football player and that if he wanted to put him in the game, he would, which is exactly what he did.

Eveland entered the game and as the time ticked down, his condition worsened.

Eveland’s teammates claim they heard him mumbling play-calls in the huddle. Shortly after complaining of leg numbness, Eveland collapsed on the field, quickly becoming comatose.

He was rushed to the hospital where he underwent emergency craniotomy surgery. Now, over five years later, Eveland requires around-the-clock-care. He cannot walk, talk or even feed himself.

Eveland’s family reached a settlement with the San Marcos Unified School District for $4.375 million earlier this year. They also settled with Rydell last year for $500,000.

Expert Witness, Blecher, Weighs In

In a video interview with Tony Iliakostas, host of the YouTube web-show “Law and Batting Order,” Dr. Andrew Blecher said that serving as an expert witness in the case took a little bit of getting used to, being that it wasn’t really a task he was prepared for in medical school.

One of the toughest parts, he said, was the challenge of dealing with the medical jargon and trying to translate it into something the jury and the lawyers would understand.

On the question of who was to blame, Blecher said, “Allegedly Scotty was exhibiting symptoms, so how he goes from explaining symptoms to being put back in the game, that one is on the athletic trainer. The athletic trainer should have held him out.”

Blecher did note, however, that it was very possible the athletic trainer was overridden by the coach, which should never be the case, but still there were several hurdles that should have stopped him from playing and the fault did not lie entirely on one individual.

Lastly, Blecher touched on the topic of concussion education, saying he felt there were a lot of people that aren’t exactly sure what a concussion is or how to treat it.

“A lot of schools aren’t lucky enough to have an athletic trainer there,” he said, elaborating that the role of unofficial doctor then falls on the coaches shoulders.

Blecher also said that there have been some laws passed, such as the one in California, that requires high school varsity football coaches to undergo concussion training every two years, and others that provide training for officials and give them the right to pull players from a game if they see signs of concussion.

In the end, however, Blecher noted that concussions were a very hard injury to diagnose and treat with near perfect efficiency.

“It may take a generation before we can get everyone to really understand the gravity of concussions.”

Andrew Blecher is a Board Certified Sports Medicine physician at the Southern California Orthopedic Institute, has served as a treating physician in the NFL and at the Los Angeles X-Games, and is a Certified ImPACT Consultant who has lectured extensively about concussions at national conferences. He is also currently the Director of the SCORE Concussion program that provides comprehensive concussion insurance coverage for 10 Los Angeles area high schools.

You can watch Iliakostas’ interview with Dr. Blecher at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mPBQeWVvf7Y&feature=youtu.be&goback=%252Egde_90074_member_189795223

To read Blecher’s guest column for Concussion Inc., visit:

http://concussioninc.net/?p=5535

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