The parents of a Cliffside Park, N.J., high school football player — who died after sustaining a traumatic brain injury — have come to a $125,000 settlement with the local school district, according to The Record of Bergen County.
The settlement marked the culmination of a lawsuit stemming from the August 2008 death of Douglas Morales, 17, who was hospitalized after an incident during practice, went into a coma and then passed away four days later, The Record reported.
Morales collapsed on the field during a practice, the suit alleged, after he made helmet-to-helmet contact with his drill partner. Morales’ family had an expert who found that Morales had sustained repeated head trauma several days before he went down on the field, according to The Record.
It was believed that Morales was the victim of so-called second-impact syndrome. This refers to the fact that if a person has not recovered fully from a mild concussion, if they suffer another head injury it can result in major brain damage.
Morales died of “massive brain swelling, multiple brain herniation, hemorrhages and brain compression,” The Record reported.
The defendants in the suit included: Cliffside Park High School; its principal George Fabiano; coach John Ranu; athletic director Joseph Taibi; Circle System Group Inc. and Schutt Sports Inc., which supplied refurbished helmets and shoulder pads to the high school.
One of the issues in Morales’ death was whether the helmet that the teen was wearing had been properly refurbished.
Circle System ran into legal problems over its refurbished helmets, according to The Record. The company’s ex-president in 2008 pleaded guilty to fraud charges for lying about helmet safety tests. Two other company officials were charged with bilking “millions of dollars from schools and colleges through the sale and reconditioning of football helmets,” The Record reported.
Those two men are slated to stand trial next year in Newark.
But after Schutt and its affiliate companies filed for bankruptcy they were dropped as defendants in the Morales lawsuit, according to The Record.
The attorney for the remaining defendants stressed that none of them admitted to any wrongdoing or liability as part of the settlement.