The mother of a Chicago high school football player who died last year from injuries suffered during a game is suing the manufacturer of his helmet as well as the Chicago Board of Education, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Bogan High School’s Andre Smith, 17, suffered blunt force trauma to his head during a game against Chicago Vocational on Oct. 22, 2015, and died the next day.
Jeanine Smith, who is being represented by Brion Doherty of the Chicago firm Motherway & Napleton LLP, filed the lawsuit last week in Cook County circuit court. Smith’s suit alleges that an air bladder inside a Riddell brand helmet intended to increase protection wasn’t properly inflated and that the board of education is responsible for supplying the improperly working helmet to her son.
Riddell declined to comment to the Tribune about the lawsuit, and a message from the newspaper to the Chicago Board of Education was not returned.
Andre Smith was blocked while trying to make a tackle on a kick return last Oct. 22 at Chicago’s Stagg Stadium. According to court records obtained by the Tribune, the block was delivered to the left side of Smith’s Revolution Speed helmet. His head and helmet then hit the ground with great force. After the hit, he reported feeling dizzy and having a headache before falling due to seizures. Smith remained unresponsive as emergency medical personnel rushed him to a local hospital, where he passed away the next day.
Per court records, an inspection of Smith’s helmet found the crown air bladder lost half its air pressure after five minutes, while the rear air bladder lost 10 percent of its air pressure 10 minutes after being inflated.
The lawsuit claims the board of education knew the helmets required proper inflation to minimize head-injury risk and failed to ensure the helmets were at their proper inflation. It also claims that Smith did not receive timely and appropriate medical care after suffering the head injury.
This year, according to the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research at the University of North Carolina, three football players nationally have died since the season began and five have died since July.