Jury sacks football helmet maker Riddell

April 15, 2013 at 2:09 AM
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TRINIDAD, Colo., April 15 (UPI) -- A jury in Colorado sacked football helmet maker Riddell this weekend, saying it must pay $3.1 million to a partially paralyzed high school player.

The Las Animas County jury delivered its verdict against Riddell, the country's largest football helmet maker, about 2 a.m. Saturday, The Denver Post. The panel decided Riddell failed to accurately warn users of potential concussions, the newspaper said. KOAA-TV, Colorado Springs, said the jury rejected the plaintiff's claims Riddell's helmets are defective.

The Post said Riddell was found responsible for $3.1 million of the total $11.5 million awarded to Rhett Ridolfi. The New York Times reported several of Ridolfi's coaches were found to be negligent, but will not have to pay damages.

The player sustained a head injury while practicing for the Trinidad High School football team August 2008. He is paralyzed on the left side of his body and has brain damage, his attorney, Frank Azar, Ridolfi, said.

"What the jury found in this case is Riddell knew a lot more than they were letting people know," Azar said.

The verdict could have a larger impact on Riddell. National Football League players have lodged a similar suit against the equipment maker, which produces the official helmet of the NFL.

Denver Business Journal reported Riddell said it would appeal the verdict, contending the court erred in excluding testimony by a defense expert.

The Times said Riddell issued a statement stating it was "disappointed in the jury's decision not to fully exonerate" it. The company also said it is "pleased the jury determined that Riddell's helmet was not defective in any way."

"We are confident that the jury would have reached a different conclusion had the court not erroneously excluded the testimony of our warnings expert," the company said. "We intend to appeal this verdict, and we remain steadfast in our belief that Riddell designs and manufactures the most protective football headgear for the athlete."

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