$991,800 Jury Verdict in Lawsuit Against School District Where Nurse Chose Not to Alert Coaches of a Player’s Concussion

Kacey Strough was 16 years old when he joined his high school football team. Apparently as a prank, his teammates threw footballs at his head while he was sitting on the sideline during a practice. He later went to the school nurse complaining of a headache and double vision. Kacey told the nurse that he had been hit on the head with a football and was concerned that he might have a concussion. The nurse allegedly attempted to call his grandmother with whom Kacey was living, but she was unable to reach her.


Kacey continued participating in team practices over the next two weeks.  He also returned to the nurse with continued complaints of headaches and vision difficulties. The school nurse called Kacey’s grandmother, but allegedly discussed only Kacey’s diagnosis of pink eye; she said nothing about his headaches or vision issues.


Several days later, while Kacey was home, he complained to his grandmother of headaches, neck pain and problems with vision and balance. Kacey’s grandmother took him to a hospital emergency room where an imaging revealed a mass in his head.


Kacey was transferred to a different hospital where doctors discovered a cavernous malformation, which is a cluster of abnormally formed blood vessels in the brain.


Kacey later required surgery to remove a blood clot near his brain stem followed by expensive rehabilitation. As a result of the bleeding and clot, Kacey suffered brain damage that has affected his ability to walk. He currently uses a wheelchair or a walker but may be able to walk with a cane at some point in his future.  His past medical expenses were stipulated at trial to be $141,800.


A lawsuit was brought by Kacey through his grandmother suing the school nurse and the school district. Kacey’s grandmother claimed that Kacey suffered a concussion after being hit with a football and that the injury, possibly aggravated by additional damage he suffered on the football field, caused the pre-existing malformation in his brain to bleed.


Kacey’s lawsuit further alleged that the school nurse chose not to alert the football coaches about Kacey’s complaints so that he could be removed from further participation, notifying his grandmother of his symptoms and his need to consult a doctor. It was also claimed that the school should be held responsible for Kacey’s need to consult with a physician and follow up with his grandmother to make sure that he saw a doctor. Had the nurse alerted his coaches and grandmother to a possible concussion after his first visit to the nurse’s office, Kacey claimed he could have been evaluated immediately, preventing the blood clot and resulting brain damage.


The defendants, the nurse and the school district, admitted negligence and the case was tried on causation and damages only.


The defendants argued at trial that Kacey suffered a spontaneous bleed from the cavernous malformation and that the bleed would have occurred regardless of any alleged trauma. They also argued that Kacey’s future earnings were limited because of a learning disability.


The jury apparently was not persuaded by the defendants’ arguments. The jury found that the nurse’s failure to alert Kacey’s coaches and follow up with his grandmother were the contributing causes of his brain bleed. The jury verdict was converted to a judgment of $991,800, which was paid.


The attorneys representing Kacey Strough and his grandmother were Thomas P. Slater and Michael T. Morris.


Strough v. Bedford Community School District, No. 4:13-cv-00147 (S.D. Iowa, May 11, 2015).


Kreisman Law Offices has been representing individuals and families who have been injured or killed by the negligence of another for more than 40 years in cases ranging from motorcycle accidents, truck accident cases, car accident cases, premises liability cases, dangerous drug cases, nursing home negligence cases and bicycle accident cases, in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas including, Chicago (Sheffield, South Chicago, Southport, University of Chicago, Wrigleyville, Irving Park, Jackson Park, Highland, Printer’s Row, Pulaski Park, Pill Hill), Joliet, Waukegan, Round Lake Beach, Schaumburg, Northbrook, Norwood Park, Lockport, Morton Grove, Highland Park, Highwood, Lake Bluff and Des Plaines, Ill.

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