Articles Posted in Traumatic Brain Injury

These consolidated appeals arise from an important issue facing professional athletics and contemporary culture as a whole. Former professional football players are developing significant neurological disorders after sustaining repeated concussions while playing football. Evolving scientific and medical research has uncovered a link between repeated blows to the head and developing Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy and other neurological impairments.

The plaintiffs in these cases are former professional football players who have sustained numerous concussions and are suffering the attendant neurological impairments. They have already sued the National Football League in a federal class action case and have entered into a settlement with the NFL to address their grievances. The same former players, however, now seek relief from the defendants — the manufacturers and designers of the helmets they wore while playing football.  These plaintiffs alleged that the helmet manufacturers have long known about the dangers and the harmful effects of repeated concussive and sub-concussive traumas, but they never warned the users of their helmets about the dangers; instead, they represented that their helmets were protecting these players.

The defendant-helmet manufacturers moved to dismiss these cases on the ground that the cases are barred by the two-year statute of limitations covering personal injury actions in Illinois. In response, the plaintiffs argued that the cases were not time barred because the lawsuits were filed within two years of the players learning about the injuries for which they seek relief. The trial court found that, because the players had already sued the NFL more than two years before filing these cases, the players knew about their injuries and, therefore, could have sued the helmet manufacturers at the same time – more than two years before filing these lawsuits. Plaintiffs appealed the dismissal of their claims. The Illinois Appellate Court affirmed the plaintiffs’ claims were indeed untimely and upheld the dismissal.

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Jaccolah Johnson was 66 and had limited mobility when she used the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) mobility bus to get to appointments and other local trips.

On one occasion, Johnson attempted to exit the bus while carrying two bags with one arm and a Bible tucked underneath the other arm. Johnson refused the driver’s offer of assistance, and the driver stayed buckled into his seat.

She walked down the bus’s angled steps, lost her balance, fell down the steps, and hit the back of her head on the curb.

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Nardo Ovando was a 44-year-old painter employed by Painters USA Inc. and was hired for a painting job at the defendant Vita Food Products Inc. The job was located at 2222 W. Lake St. in Chicago.  Ovando was standing on a ladder and reaching overhead while painting a ceiling at the Vita Food facility on June 30, 2011 when one of the legs of the ladder dropped into a floor drain opening that caused him to fall off the ladder.

On falling, Ovando’s head struck the floor resulting in a severe traumatic brain injury that required multiple brain surgeries.

Ovando reportedly has exhibited no measurable brain activity since the occurrence and will require care in a skilled nursing facility for the remainder of his life. His past medical expenses totaled $1,204,762 with his future medical expenses estimated at $7,590,000.

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On Aug. 2, 2005, Brandy Pirrello was a resident at Maryville Academy, a facility that houses and treats minors with behavioral problems. At the time, Brandy was 16 years old. She had been admitted to the facility in early 2005 and had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and was at risk of suicide or self-harm. On Aug. 2, 2005, Brandy leaped from her second-story window, landed on a cement patio and seriously injured herself.

On July 17, 2007, Brandy turned 18 years old. The day before, she filed a lawsuit against Maryville. Brandy claimed that Maryville had been negligent in choosing not to take precautions against the risk that she would try to hurt herself. Brandy was seeking compensation for the expenses that she incurred due to her hospitalization and related medical expenses.

However, the injury and the bulk of the expenses incurred between the ages of 16 and 18 and as such, fell under Illinois Family Expense Act. By the terms of the act, the responsibility for paying for Brandy’s medical care was her parents’ responsibility rather than Brandy herself. Therefore, her parents had the right to sue. Brandy’s parents did not join her as a plaintiff in the lawsuit. Brandy’s parents divorced when she was 8, and Brandy was on her father’s health insurance at the time of her injuries. Brandy’s father indicated at a deposition that he did not intend to be involved in her lawsuit.

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Allen Ginn, the owner of a trucking company, drove his truck to a sawmill to unload the logs he was hauling. When he reached his designated unloading area, the mill employees instructed him to release the tie-down straps on his load. As he did that, a log fell onto him striking him directly on the head and back.

Ginn was 49 years old at the time and suffered a subdural hematoma, a subarachnoid hemorrhage and skull fractures. He also had spinal fractures at L1-3 and fractures to his right hip and the right side of his pelvis. He was in a coma for several days. He later went through a regimen of physical therapy and rehabilitation.

As a result of this incident, Ginn has suffered a brain injury, occasional seizures, memory loss and chronic fatigue. He will likely require supervision and assistance with daily living activities well into the future.

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Leonardo Davila, 65, was working for a security company that was hired by Premium Assets Inc. Premium was hired to provide security to an office building. While Davila was working near the building loading dock one evening, an unknown assailant attacked him.

Davila suffered a traumatic brain injury as a result of the assault and is now blind. He was earning $30,000 annually.  His medical expenses were approximately $450,000. Davila brought a lawsuit against Premium Assets, claiming that it chose not to secure the loading dock with a fence despite knowledge of vagrancy and drug activity in that area. The jury was persuaded that the management/ownership of the building, Premium, had knowledge that working near this building was a risk because of the prior criminal activities in the area.

The jury’s verdict of $25 million included $3.25 million in punitive damages.  Davila was represented by Robert C. Hilliard and Thomas J. Henry.

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