Category Archives: Football

Pop Warner Little Scholars, Inc. Sacked in Waiver/Release Decision of Interest

(Editor’s Note: What follows is an excerpt from an article that appeared in the January issue of Concussion Litigation Reporter. To see the full article, subscribe at https://concussionpolicyandthelaw.com/subscribe/)

By Carla Varriale, of Havkins, Rosenfeld, Ritzert and Varriale

In a case that is of keen interest to youth sports, a California court denied recent motions by Pop Warner Little Scholars Inc. (“PWLS”) and other defendants seeking dismissal of the claims against them. In Crystal Dixon, et al v. Pop Warner Little Scholars, Inc., the plaintiffs’ Third Amended Complaint put forth claims for negligence, respondeat superior and violations of California’s Business and Professional Code, among others. The Third Amended Complaint also contained a claim for punitive damages. The motions for adjudication of issues were denied in part because of lingering questions about the failure to coach the injured plaintiff in proper tackling technique and whether there was a conscious disregard for his safety based on the evidence presented.  The Third Amended Complaint alleged that the injured plaintiff was rendered a quadriplegic after he attempted to tackle an opposing player using an improper head-first tackling technique which he claimed his coaches taught and instructed him to use.file000785928607

The decision is instructive for two reasons.

First, the “Parental/Guardian Permission and Waiver Agreement” (the “Waiver and Release”) failed to protect PWLS under the circumstances although it was clear, unambiguous and specifically referenced the risk of injury at issue in the Dixon case.

The Waiver and Release stated:

INTENT TO INFORM
I acknowledge that I am fully aware of the potential dangers of participation in any sport and I fully understand that participation in football, cheerleading and/or dance, and related activities may result on SERIOUS INJURIES, PARALYSIS, PERMANANET [sic] DISABILITY AND/OR DEATH to myself, my children, and/or entire family. Further, I do hereby forever discharge, waive, release, absolve, indemnify, and agree to hold harmless Pop Warner, and any and all organizers, sponsors, supervisors, administrators, officers, directors, staff, referees, participants, and persons transporting the above named participant to and from activities, from any claim arising out of any injury to myself and/or my/our child whether the result of negligence or any other cause…” (“Compendium of Exhibits,” Exhibit “D;” emphasis theirs).

The court acknowledged that under California law, to be enforceable a putative waiver or release must clearly apprise the releasor or indemnitor of the effect of the release or waiver. In fact, every possible specific act of negligence of the defendant need not be spelled out in the agreement or even discussed by the parties. It is only necessary that the act of negligence, which results in injury to the releasor, be reasonably related to the object or purpose for which the release is given.

Based on the language cited above, there was … (for the full summary, visit https://concussionpolicyandthelaw.com/subscribe/ to subscribe)

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XLNTbrain Taps Former NFL Offensive Lineman Tony Mandarich as Spokesperson

XLNTbrain has secured former NFL offensive lineman Tony Mandarich to speak on behalf of the sports concussion management system during the College Football Playoff National Championship Game on Monday, January 11, 2016 during a radio interview tour leading up to the kickoff.

According to Steve Lewis, CEO of XLNTbrain, Mandarich provides an authentic, transparency to the concussion world.

“Tony’s life story of recovering from major difficulties, and becoming successful again in both personal and professional endeavors is very compelling,” said Lewis. “His reflections on his own concussions and health, education, recovery and responsibility reflect core values that can be applied not only in youth athletics and concussion management but in life generally. “We are excited about this affiliation, and hope we can help bring more awareness to what is being done now about sports concussions.”

A 1988 All-American for the Michigan State University Spartans, Mandarich will be onsite in Scottsdale, Arizona speaking with local, and national media at the “Audio Avenue,” providing game commentary, as well as revealing his concussion experiences as associated with XLNTbrain. Should underdog (3) Michigan State beat (2) Alabama in the playoff game on December 31, Mandarich’s football expertise will surely be in greater demand.

Mandarich is perhaps best known for being “the best offensive line prospect ever,” by Sports Illustrated in 1989. He came into the league as the second overall draft pick by the Green Bay Packers.

“With concussions being so prominent and affecting so many people on and off the field, I’m glad to be affiliated with this advanced concussion system. From what I’ve experienced with concussions personally, and what XLNTbrain is doing, I think we could play a big role in helping the problem go away,” said Mandarich, who played for the Packers until 1998.

After his playing days, Mandarich’s story has been well-documented for overcoming painkiller addiction and alcoholism, unfortunately which are common conditions among former NFL players. He also penned, My Dirty Little Secrets — Steroids, Alcohol & God in 2009 to help others struggling with these issues. Based in Scottsdale, Mandarich is also a professional photographer with an extensive library, and related services at http://www.TonyMandarich.com.

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Canadian Lawyer Puts Concussion Movie in Context

By Cynthia P. Carels, of Miller Thomson

Concussion, the latest movie by actor Will Smith, opened in theatres across North America over the recent holiday season, and has stirred up plenty of discussion about head injuries. The story behind the movie focuses on the research of Dr. Bennet Omalu, regarding the damage professional football players in the NFL were suffering from repeated hits to the head. In 2015, a federal court judge approved a class-action lawsuit settlement agreement applying to thousands of NFL players who developed serious medical conditions as a result of their career-related head trauma.

In Canada, a 2015 Coroner’s Inquest in Ontario also examined the issue of concussion in the context of sport. 17 year old Rowan Kerry Stringer, the captain of her Varsity rugby team, passed away on May 12, 2013 after a series of game related head injuries caused severe swelling to her brain. In the Stringer Inquest, concussion was described as “an invisible injury … often not recognized as being a serious condition with potentially severe consequences, despite many initiatives to change this perspective.” These consequences can include (amongst other things) headaches, sensitivity to light and sound, impaired attention span, mood swings, memory loss, and even death.

Many strides have been made in our understanding of Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs) since the events depicted in Concussion. Even still, it can be challenging to sort out their impact in the context of a personal injury claim. Plaintiffs may have pre-existing conditions at play that have been aggravated by an accident.  Some victims may even be in denial about their symptoms, or have no personal insight, while their family members complain about significant personality changes after a loved one’s trauma.

Neuropsychologists are experts with specialized training regarding brain structure and systems and their connection to behaviour and thinking. Neuropsychological testing can be very helpful in determining the damages a head injury has caused, and how it may impact a victim’s career, home life, and even recreational activities.

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