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C & S In The News
Apr 3, 2018

John Scully Obtains Defense Verdict in Montana Football Case

Great Falls, MT - On March 21, 2018, John Scully and co-counsel, Julie Lichte of Crowley Fleck (Bozeman, MT) obtained a defense verdict on behalf of their client, Benefis Health System. 

On September 5, 2014, Plaintiff Robert G. Back, age 16 years, suffered a concussion while playing 8-man football for Belt High School.  On September 12, 2014, Robert collapsed on the sideline just before halftime during a football game.  Robert underwent a decompressive craniotomy and evacuation of a large subdural hematoma.  Robert suffered a brain injury that resulted in profound cognitive deficits, permanent disability and quadriplegia.  He requires 24/7 care. 

Plaintiffs Robert and his parents, Buck and Shannon, brought suit against Benefis Health System alleging that an athletic trainer employed by Benefis was negligent in interpreting an ImPACT test and returning Robert to play in the second game.  The trainer had emailed the head football coach the day before the game stating that Robert was “okay concussion-wise.”   The coach claimed that the trainer’s email constituted clearance for Robert to play in the game. Plaintiffs further contended Robert’s brain injury was caused by Second Impact Syndrome, which Plaintiffs defined as rapid cerebral swelling, resulting in brainstem herniation caused by dysautoregulation of the brain’s ability to control blood flow after a second impact occurs while the brain is still vulnerable from a prior concussion. 

The defense contended that the trainer correctly interpreted the ImPACT test.  Her email to the coach on September 11 about the results of Robert’s ImPACT test did not constitute written clearance for Robert to return to play.  She was not told that he had been removed from play by 2 doctors. The defense also disputed causation and contended the large subdural hematoma was caused by a helmet-to-helmet hit Robert suffered during the September 12 game, and was not caused by Second Impact Syndrome, which is controversial.

Following a two and a half week trial, the jury returned a defense verdict for Benefis. Here is a link to additional information concerning the trial and verdict: