Updates to our Terms of Use

We are updating our Terms of Use. Please carefully review the updated Terms before proceeding to our website.

Thursday, April 25, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

PA School Ducks Suit on Football Concussions

PHILADELPHIA (CN) - School officials are not liable to a student who allegedly has cognitive problems after suffering two concussions in one football game, a federal judge ruled.

William Croce brought the lawsuit in 2013, saying his football coach at West Chester East High School put him back on the field during a 2010 game after he blacked out from an in-game hit.

Claiming that he sustained a second concussion toward the end of the game, Croce alleged the he still has physical and cognitive problems from the incident.

Doctors were allegedly unable to find Croce's retina immediately after the injury, and Croce failed all balance and concussion tests. He alleged that his cognitive abilities had deteriorated to the point where he was no longer able to participate in the same high-level classes he had before the injury.

U.S. District Judge Edward Smith dismissed Croce's assault claim in April 2014 and granted the West Chester School District summary judgment on the remaining issues Wednesday.

Unlike private employers, public schools, as governmental entities, are not automatically liable for the decisions of their employees, but liable only if the injuries occurred from a regular policy or practice.

In this case, Croce's claim for "state-created violence" was refuted by "undisputed evidence show[ing] that the defendant had a policy and custom of taking sports safety, including concussion responsiveness and diagnosis, seriously," the ruling states.

"There is absolutely no evidence developed through discovery to suggest that the defendant had a policy, practice, or custom of indifference to the health and safety of its students," Smith wrote.Mark Grothmann, the West Chester East's head athletic director, testified that Croce had been the only person in Grothmann's 13 years at the school to allege that he was put back into a game without reporting to an athletic trainer after complaining of "head issues."

Categories / Uncategorized

Subscribe to Closing Arguments

Sign up for new weekly newsletter Closing Arguments to get the latest about ongoing trials, major litigation and hot cases and rulings in courthouses around the U.S. and the world.