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Family sues school, helmet maker Riddell over teen's traumatic brain injury

Published On: Dec 24 2013 09:15:50 AM CST   Updated On: Oct 07 2013 09:01:37 PM CDT
Bobby Clark

The family of a North Idaho teen is suing the West Bonner County School District and Riddell Sports Inc. for injuries the teen suffered during a 2011 football game that left him with a traumatic brain injury.

The complaint, filed on Sept. 24, alleges the district, Priest River Lamanna High School, Riddell Sports and four unnamed staff members of the school are responsible for the injuries the teen suffered.

Robert Clark II and Julie Clark are suing on behalf of their son, Bobby Clark, who was a student-athlete at Priest River Lamanna High School in the fall of 2011. They allege that on Sept. 30, 2011, their son was participating as an athlete on the school's football team when he was injured by a collision with another player which "shook, disoriented and injured him."

Coaches and members of the staff, named in the suit as John Does 1-4, then put him back into the game without any testing to determine if he had suffered a concussion.

Several plays later, Clark went to the sidelines and collapsed and fell unconscious. A doctor examined him and he was transferred by helicopter to Sacred Heart Medical Center, where he underwent emergency surgery and was placed on life support in a medically induced coma.

The suit alleges that Clark suffered a traumatic brain injury and claims that the district, high school, the football coaches and staff are negligent as a result of that injury.

The suit also claims that Riddell Sports, the manufacturer of the helmets used by the football team, was negligent for Clark's injury due to the helmet being "defective and unreasonably dangerous because of the product designers', manufacturers', and product sellers' failure to provide adequate warnings with respect to the dangers involved" in using the helmet while playing football.

During the same period Bobby Clark was injured, nine other members of the Priest River Lamanna football team were sidelined indefinitely because of concussions and the junior varsity football team had to cancel a game because it did not have enough healthy players to field a team.

A similar suit was filed last year by the family of Drew Swank, a Valley Christian football player who collapsed after being hit by a player on the opposing team during a 2009 football game. Swank lost consciousness within moments and later died.

In the suit filed by Swank's family, they accused his former football coaches, a school administrator and the family's doctor of neglecting his medical condition, which ultimately led to his death.

The attorneys representing the Clark family declined comment for this story, while the school district did not return calls for comment.