A long-running but contested lawsuit in Washington state which pits the family of a high school football player who died as a result of an on-field injury against the school for which he played has been given the green light to continue following a hearing by the state’s supreme court.
As reported by the Spokane Spokesman-Review, the family of Drew Swank — who was allowed to return to game action a week after suffering an in-game concussion and collapsed and died — has been allowed to officially pursue their stated lawsuit against Valley Christian School and football coach Jim Puryear, which has been working its way through courts and appeals since Swank died in fall 2009.
Per the Spokesman-Review, onlookers and Swank’s family contend the teen’s tragic death came in a game during which Puryear overlooked traditional (though then more rudimentary) concussion protocol and instead continually pushed the teen back on to the field, even “jerked (Swank’s facemask) up and down hard.” The younger Swank eventually collapsed on the sideline after absorbing a hit on the field, vomited and later died.
Here’s more on how the lawsuit has wound its way through the courts in Washington, again via the Spokesman-Review:
The original lawsuit alleges Valley Christian and Puryear didn’t follow the new Lystedt law that was created to protect athletes from returning to the field too soon after sustaining a concussion.
Spokane Superior Court Judge Michael Price dismissed the lawsuit, but the family filed an appeal in 2015. The Washington Court of Appeals reinstated the portion of the lawsuit against Valley Christian, but allowed the dismissal Puryear from the lawsuit to stand. The case then went to the Washington State Supreme Court.
Once in the Supreme Court, eventually decided that the original Lystedt law claims made by the Swank family should be allowed to proceed, as well as negligence claims against Puryear himself.
While the decision Thursday only allows the planned lawsuit to formally continue, it’s still a significant step forward for a family which has been in turmoil for the better part of a decade after their son’s tragic death.