Category Archives: Brain Injuries

How Does the Contact Sports Exception Affect Youth Sports Injury Cases?

Youth athletics are an important part of American culture, but the potential for injury is very high. Especially in sports like football, many young athletes face potentially serious and even life-threatening injuries. Illinois negligence law has an exception concerning injuries sustained through participation in contact sports. This presents a difficult and often confusing situation for families and athletes injured while playing sports. All of the considerations these cases necessitate just compound the stress experienced when a loved one is injured. What is the Contact Sports Exception? Due to the voluntary nature of contact sports, the courts have created an exception for negligence claims in Illinois. Contact sport participants may be held liable for injuries to others caused by willful and wanton or intentional conduct. Ordinary negligence, however, is considered to be an inherent part of contact sports. At the most fundamental level, the contact sports exception to Illinois’ negligence laws is a judicially created exception. This means that courts have created a systematic method for assessing negligence related to injuries in contact sports. This exception was not written into the statute by the state legislature. How and Why the Exception was Created and Later Expanded  The courts, as public institutions, have a duty to take public policy considerations into account when interpreting statutory law. The Illinois Supreme Court rendered a decision in the case of Pfister v. Shusta, which provides the rationale for the exception. In this case, a college student was injured during an informal game and the court barred the student from recovering damages under an ordinary negligence claim. The Illinois Supreme Court in the Pfister decision intended to strike a balance between society’s interest in limiting liability for injuries sustained through physical contact inherent to a contact sport and allowing recovery for injuries caused by intentional misconduct. They asserted that participants in games such as soccer, football, softball, basketball, or any game involving potential physical contact are assuming responsibility for the associated risks. In 2008, the Illinois Supreme Court rendered a decision in the case of Karas v. Strevell. In this case, a hockey player was injured during a game when checked from behind. However, at the time of the accident the league had a rule in place prohibiting body checks, even printing, “STOP” onto the backs of jerseys. The plaintiff in Karas sued the players who caused the injury, the opposing hockey team, the hockey officials’ organization, and the hockey league. Their claim of negligence rested on the assertion that the defendants acted with willful and wonton conduct. The Supreme Court threw out the plaintiff’s claims against all of the defendants. Simply stated, their decision was that rules violations do not constitute willful negligence as defined in Pfister. These are an inherent part of the sport, which is evidenced by the presence of officials who monitor and punish rules violations. How Recent Cases Impact the Contact Sports Exception Recent decisions in the Illinois Appellate Court have declined to expand this exception. In Weisberg v. Chicago Steel (2009), an athletic trainer working for an outside company was struck in the face by a hockey puck while in the bench area refilling water bottles. Because the trainer was not doing anything inherent to the sport, the exception was not applied. Many parents and athletes may be unaware that schools and youth athletics leagues in Illinois are shielded in some cases from liability in personal injury cases arising out of sports injuries. Especially in cases where an athlete sustains a traumatic brain injury, it is important to get the best representation possible.

Movie Extra Settles Personal Injury Claim for $18.5 Million

A 26 year old woman who worked on the movie set of Transformers, and who was injured on set, settled her claim against with Paramount Pictures and DW Studio Productions for $18.5 million.  On September 1, 2010, Gabriela Cedillo was an extra on the set when a cable and its metal bracket broke loose from a stunt vehicle and crashed into a car that Cedillo was in, striking her head.  Cedillo has subsequently suffered from significant brain impairment.  Cedillo requires 24 hour care.  Cedillo also has a pending worker's compensation claim.

Family Sues Over Asthmatic Boy Being Transferred to 3 Hospitals

The Pointer family was looking for answers over the death of their asthmatic son, who died after being transferred to three different hospitals in an 11 hour period.  On the morning of September 13, 2010, seven year old Aaron Pointer suffered from an asthmatic attack.  In a tragic set of circumstances, the boy was shuttled to three facilities because the first two could allegedly not meet his needs.  By the time that Aaron was taken to St. Joseph Medical Center in Joliet, his brain was "starved for oxygen."  The boy later died.  The family filed suit alleging that the three hospitals and various doctors were negligent in the care of their son.

Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals Upholds $29 Million Jury Verdict

On Thursday, September 1, 2011, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a 2010 jury verdict awarding a family $29.1 million in a medical malpractice case.  Christian Arroyo was born in 2003 with a common neonatal blood infection, which was left untreated for 12 hours.  Consequently, the child suffered irreversible brain damage. The boy, now 8, is a second grader who is a spastic quadriplegic with cerebral palsy.  The government appealed the verdict against the government-employed doctors, claiming that the suit was untimely filed.  The appeals court rejected the argument.