McNamee v. Hillsborough – Florida Student Athlete Head Injury Prompts Lawsuit


Parents of a high school football player who suffered a serious brain injury last fall on the football field have sued the school district in Hillsborough, alleging negligence.

According to the complaint in McNamee v. Hillsborough County School District, the high school junior was playing catch with his teammates just prior to practice when he jumped for the ball. In doing so, his head struck a paint machine, which is used to line the field.

School officials would later insist he was escorted off the field, seen by a trainer and that the trainer contacted the teen’s family. However, video footage of the incident showed the school’s narrative deviates from the truth. In reality, the images show the teen was left alone for several minutes and finally left the campus alone, unsupervised. He later drove himself home. His parents say the school never contacted them.

The school district has not commented extensively on the incident, but has not disputed the fact that school employees made no effort to get the teen straight to a hospital.

When he was later rushed to the hospital, doctors placed him in a medically-induced coma for nearly two weeks in an effort to mitigate the effect of brain swelling. The family now says they have racked up more than $200,000 in medical bills.

Our Fort Myers injury lawyers know that is the maximum payout authorized for state government agencies (such as school districts). It is possible to petition the state legislature for an exception, though those are only granted in the most severe of circumstances. Eligibility depends on the extent and permanence of one’s injuries.

The family has said what is most concerning is the lack of protocol the school had for this situation. Or if there was a protocol, it clearly wasn’t followed. By leaving the teen alone for so long, plaintiffs assert, the teen was denied immediate treatment, which may have exacerbated his injuries.

The family has been fighting for the school to enact safety-related changes regarding head injury response, but say so far, nothing has been done.

This is not an uncommon concern. Recently in New York, The New York Times reported on the death of a 16-year-old football player who died of a head injury following an on-field collision. He was the third football player to suffer this fate in the U.S. in a single week. Prior to that, a 17-yer-old in Alabama died after making a tackle, and a day after that, a North Carolina teen collapsed during a warm-up and later died.

It’s worth noting that both the N.C.A.A. and the N.F.L. have faced litigation regarding the way they handled head injuries.

A survey by the National Federation of High School Associations found that more than 1 million teen boys participate in U.S. football. Last year, nearly 1.25 million kids were transported to hospital emergency rooms for sport-related injuries.

In some cases, cause of death may not be immediately apparent. Even serious head injuries, like the one suffered by the teen in Tampa, are not always obvious right away. But it’s for this reason school administrators need to set and enforce strict procedures when a student does suffer a direct hit to the head (and also for outdoor practices on humid days).

If you or your child have suffered a school sports injury, contact the Hollander Law Firm at (561) 347-7770 for a free and confidential consultation. There is no fee unless we win.

Additional Resources:

McNamee v. Hillsborough County School District, Filed Sept. 12, 2014, In the Circuit Court of the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit

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Parker v. Holiday Hospitality – Hotel Liability Claim Weighed, Sept. 30, 2014, Fort Myers Injury Lawyer Blog