Riddell, Maker of Football Helmets, Not Liable for Player's Injury

By Andrew Lu on October 30, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Riddell was found not liable in a lawsuit brought against it for a high school football player's injury.

A Mississippi jury took five days to unanimously hold that the football helmet manufacturer was not responsible for the stroke suffered by a ninth grade student, reports The Associated Press.

The student had been participating in a school-sponsored football practice when he was hit. The parents of the student claimed that the helmet pushed back on the student's neck, causing the stroke. However, the Mississippi jury basically found that Riddell was not an insurer against all injuries and sometimes tragic accidents will happen.

Riddell is currently facing a litany of litigation. The football helmet manufacturer is famously being sued by an ever-growing list of former professional football players who have sued both the NFL and Riddell for their head injuries.

As a result of this litigation, one has to wonder how much responsibility the producers of safety equipment actually bear. For example, would a safety belt manufacturer be responsible for every injury sustained in a car accident?

In a product liability action, you typically have to look at how someone was injured and whether the product met the ordinary expectations of the consumer. So if a football helmet offered no protection and in fact increased the likelihood of someone suffering an injury like a stroke, the helmet manufacturer would likely be liable.

However, if the football helmet protected against most head injuries, yet someone is still injured, the manufacturer may be able to avoid liability.

Just because a company creates a safety product, this does not mean that the product will erase all chance of injury. This also does not mean that the company should bear the legal responsibility should someone get injured.

The Mississippi jury found that Riddell designed an adequately safe football helmet. It's just that violent collisions happen in a violent game, and unfortunately, a ninth grade student suffered a stroke.

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