The mother of a late California teen football player has filed suit against companies that manufactured and reconditioned her son’s helmet, seeking to directly place blame for her son’s passing on the companies themselves.
As reported by the Riverside Press-Enterprise, Tina York, mother of the late Arlington High player Tyler Lewellen, filed suit against both Riddell and Gunther’s Athletic Service citing, “a brain injury of epic proportions,” as the reason for her son’s death following an Arlington scrimmage at Rubidoux High, Aug. 22, 2013. In an interview with the Press-Enterprise, York’s lawyer, Patricia Law, said that it was clear the helmet makers bore significant responsibility for Lewellen’s death because an autopsy showed that the teen had significant swelling of the brain despite the impact he suffered in the scrimmage providing only a glancing hit to his head. More specifically, Law said that the helmet’s fitting information, as provided by Riddell, were faulty, and that the company knew the information was faulty but decided to sell the entire stock of the Riddell Speed model despite that mistaken information.
“That (glancing) type of impact has very rarely been associated with the type of injury that eventually culminated,” Law told the Press-Enterprise. “What happened was a brain injury of epic proportions. It’s the type of injury … that we see when people fall from 10 stories up and hit their heads or are in horrific collisions … at 100 mph.
“The highest likelihood was that the helmet was not properly fitted.”
In a rather altruistic measure, York has not stipulated any amount of money that the family seeks as punitive damages. Rather, they note that the family was forced to pay for medical and funeral expenses, for which they would like to be remunerated, but also insist that the culprits for her son’s death are held accountability to prevent other teens from suffering a similar fate.
“She’s just a really wonderful person and she seeks no publicity out of this at all,” Law continued. “It’s her only son, and it’s a devastating, devastating loss to her. She wants to make sure that nobody else loses their 16-year-old son in a simple game … in a fairly glancing blow. What’s troubled her from the beginning is that this was just a nothing hit.”