The running back dives for the first down with the defender on his back.

News stories, television reports and even feature films have addressed the potential injuries that can result from blows to the head suffered by football players. Major helmet manufacturers like Riddell, located in Elyria, Ohio, are investing significant resources into making the safest possible equipment, but they are still facing several types of lawsuits.

Riddell and other helmet makers have succeeded in many instances because their equipment is effective in preventing major head injuries. Still, in both class action cases and individual litigation, players and their families have asserted products liability and other types of claims, including:

  • Design defects — Manufacturers have defeated these allegations in various cases, in large part because safer alternatives have not been available.
  • Alleged misrepresentation — These accusations rely less on actual data than design claims and might lead to higher exposure based on subjective impressions regarding helmet safety. Even though helmets might have limited ability to avert concussions and other conditions caused by repeated head collisions, there could be a question as to whether they were correctly marketed.
  • Civil conspiracy — A case filed in Cook County, Illinois by the widow of former NFL player Paul Oliver alleges that the league, Riddell and other equipment makers conspired over many decades to conceal the dangers football players face from repeated impacts. This includes forming a national committee that was ostensibly designed to promote equipment safety but really was meant to limit members’ liability, according to the suit.

Football’s high profile and massive revenue make these lawsuits popular among plaintiffs’ attorneys, but these types of issues can exist in any type of products liability action.

If your company has been accused of manufacturing a defective item, misrepresenting a product’s benefits or some other type of unlawful conduct, an accomplished attorney can defend your rights in court and settlement negotiations. Pullin, Fowler, Flanagan, Brown & Poe represents large and small companies in West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky. To schedule a consultation, call 304-344-0100 or contact us online.