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School Coaches Could Face Liability for Student-Athlete Concussions

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A federal appeals court has ruled that coaches or other school personnel may be liable when they expose student-athletes to further harm by having them return to play after a suspected concussion.

The unanimous decision by a three-judge panel in Philadelphia is significant amid the growing concern about concussions in football and other youth sports. But that holding did not help revive the legal claims of a Pennsylvania high school football player who experienced two separate "helmet to helmet" hits during a practice in 2011 and later suffered traumatic brain injury. His coach told the court he had been unaware of the hits and the player's injuries.

In its ruling last month, the court said a coach at a public school may be held liable when the coach requires a player who shows signs of a concussion "to continue to be exposed to violent hits." But the court went on to hold that students' rights to be protected were not clearly established in 2011, and thus the coach was immune from liability.

Vol. 37, Issue 07, Page 5

Published in Print: October 4, 2017, as School Coaches Could Face Liability for Student-Athlete Concussions
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