May 13, 2015
Head Injury Verdict To Cost District $1 Million

A school district in Iowa will have to pay nearly $1 million to former football player Kacey Strough as a result of its response to his head injuries in 2012. Following a trial in U.S. District Court, a jury found Bedford Community School District and a school nurse were negligent in failing to inform coaches about a possible concussion suffered by Strough and failing to make sure he was seen by a physician.

Yahoo Sports reports the teen had an undiagnosed pre-existing medical condition (cavernous malformation) that resulted in abnormally formed blood vessels in his brain. Strough had reported concussion symptoms after saying teammates were throwing footballs at him during practice. After examining him, the nurse did not think he had a concussion, and asked the boy’s grandmother to bring him to a physician. Strough continued to play football before being hospitalized a few days later after showing severe concussion symptoms. He eventually underwent surgery to stop bleeding in his brain that may have been caused by the incident.

Strough suffered permanent injuries and currently uses a wheelchair. He was awarded almost $150,000 in compensatory damages for past medical expenses and $850,000 for additional damages, including pain and suffering and loss of future income.

“The nurse certainly should have been aware of these, should have put him on notice to coaches to take him out of play,’ Strough’s attorney told The Associated Press. “The coaches would have followed that if they had known he had been complaining.”

Iowa law requires that any student-athlete showing signs of a concussion be removed from play before being cleared to return by a licensed health care provider. Punitive damages were not awarded because the jury found the nurse did not act with willful and wanton disregard. 

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