$5M concussion suit brought against Santa Fe ISD over football injury

By David Yates | Oct 8, 2018

GALVESTON - Santa Fe ISD, the same district that suffered a tragic high school shooting in May, has now been hit with a multi-million dollar lawsuit over a head injury suffered by a minor in a football drill.

Seeking in excess of $5 million in damages, Donna and Troy Yarbrough filed suit on behalf of their minor son against Santa Fe ISD and numerous school officials, including several individuals on the football coaching staff.

“This is a critically important civil rights case concerning traumatic physical and mental injuries sustained by a male high school student,” the suit states. “Each year numerous children are injured across the country participating in sporting events. A number of injuries result due to a systemic culture of winning at all costs.”

The Yarbroughs contend “children” are marshaled into arenas “to battle for championships to the amusement of spectators” because school districts demand winning teams and championships.

“However, in order to win championships, child athletes are subjected to training regimens that disregard their health, safety, and well-being,” the suit states. “Drills are conducted in practice that are dangerous and are known to cause long term serious injuries while under the supervision of the coaches.”

The plaintiffs’ minor son, born Oct. 16, 2000, participated in drills and practices at Santa Fe High School, resulting in repetitive helmet-to-helmet contact and other head trauma, the suit alleges.

On Sept. 21, 2016, the minor was at football practice engaged in a scrimmage that caused him to collide in violent helmet-to-helmet contact with a larger student numerous times.

“Indeed, the coaches were yelling at (the students) to line up again, and again, and again, and to hit harder, harder, harder,” the suit states. “Indeed, the coaches encouraged, if not demanded, an aggressive and repetitive full on head to head and upper body contact.

“The coaches ran the same drill over and over resulting in continued, repetitive head to head and upper body contact. The coaches never stopped or intervened in the constant helmet to helmet contact.”

Afterwards, the minor soon began to experience a severe headache. Two days later, he was diagnosed with a concussion. And to this day, the minor continues to suffer from the effects of the head injury, the suit states.

“Defendants failed to enact … proper and adequate policies … relating to the prevention of head injuries resulting from athletic activities,” the suit states. “This deliberate indifference to the health, safety and welfare of student athletes in failing to educate said student athletes on the causes, symptoms, and dangers of traumatic head injuries was the common policy and custom of Defendants.

“This deliberate indifference to the health, safety and welfare of their student athletes in failing to monitor said student athletes was the common policy, practice and custom of Defendants.”

Because of the injury, the minor suffers the following symptoms and conditions: second impact syndrome; traumatic brain injury; slowed motor activity; altered sleep patterns; recurrent headaches and head pain; nausea; dizziness; balance problems; impaired concentration; poor short-term memory; hypersensitivity to light and sounds; mood swings; and overall moderate brain dysfunction suggestive of bilateral diffuse axonal injury secondary to a traumatic brain injury.

The plaintiffs are represented by Houston attorney Alfred Southerland.

Filed in the U.S. District Court of Southern Texas, Galveston Division, case No. 3:18-cv-00287

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