Attorney Reports on Penn State Concussion Conference

(Editor’s note: Attorney Gary Wolensky wrote an article recently about a ‘Concussion in Athletics’ conference at Penn State University, which included the insights of expert physicians, scientists, and researchers. What follows below is a brief excerpt. Gary can be reached at

“As a lawyer who represents sporting goods manufacturers, especially helmet manufacturers, the takeaways from this conference include the reinforcement from world renown scientists and doctors, that given the mechanism of concussion injuries helmets simply cannot reduce the risk of concussions. Helmets in all sports are well-designed and do a good job in protecting athletes from skull fracture, which is its essential purpose. However, the mechanisms of concussions are infinite and include linear as well as rotational accelerations and don’t even require a forceful impact to the head and helmet. As such, helmet manufacturers need to be very careful about statements concerning the capabilities of their helmets in providing protection against concussion.

“Moreover, the Federal Trade Commission is becoming increasingly active in investigating marketing claims that relate to the safety of a product. The commission has entered into settlements with many companies over the past 12-18 months that include injunctive relief and heavy fines, solely due to representations made that were not supported by a valid body of scientific, medical, and engineering data. Not surprisingly, following these settlements, consumer fraud class actions have been brought by plaintiffs’ attorneys around the country. This double-punch proposition is very costly for product manufacturers but can easily be avoided by proper advertising and marketing of valid claims regarding product characteristics. The lesson that must be learned and kept in mind by companies that tout the safety features of their helmets or other athletic gear is that they better be prepared to vigorously defend those representations.”

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