A Colorado jury has awarded $11.5 million in a lawsuit originally brought against helmet maker Riddell and several high school administrators and football coaches over brain injuries suffered by a teenager in 2008.
The ruling comes as the company faces a similar lawsuit in Los Angeles, plus a complaint by thousands of former NFL players against the league and Riddell.
Riddell said it planned to appeal the verdict but was pleased that jurors rejected allegations regarding helmet design defects.
“While disappointed in the jury’s decision not to fully exonerate Riddell, we are pleased the jury determined that Riddell’s helmet was not defective in any way,” the company said in a statement. It said it believes it designs and manufactures the most protective football headgear for athletes.
The jury in Las Animas County found that Riddell was negligent in failing to warn people wearing its helmets about concussion dangers. The jury assessed 27 percent of the fault for Rhett Ridolfi’s injuries, making the company responsible for paying $3.1 million of the damages.
Ridolfi’s family sued Riddell and his coaches after Ridolfi suffered a concussion in a Trinidad High School football practice. He wasn’t immediately taken to the hospital and now has severe brain damage, as well as paralysis on his left side.
Three people reached confidential settlements before Saturday’s verdict, but two coaches were still defendants at the trial. Ridolfi’s lawyer, Frank Azar, said Sunday that he’ll ask a judge to find Riddell responsible for paying all $11.5 million in damages.
Riddell contends that the court erroneously excluded testimony from its warnings expert, though Azar disputed that.
“I think this jury has said they’re in very serious trouble,” said Azar, who said he is representing between 10 and 20 former NFL players with complaints against Riddell.
In October, a jury in Mississippi found Riddell wasn’t responsible for an injury to a high school football player who had suffered a stroke after a practice.
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