CHICAGO- The mother of a Bogan High School football player who died after being hit during a game last year is suing the Chicago Board of Education and a helmet manufacturer, saying her son's helmet failed to protect him as it was supposed to.
Andre Smith, 17, was hit during the last play of an Oct. 22 football game vs. Vocational at Stagg Stadium. He died the next day.
In the wrongful death lawsuit filed, which was first reported by the Sun-Times, Jeanine Smith, Andre's mother, claimed that helmet manufacturer Riddell failed to warn her son and others that the Revolution Speed helmet was dangerous if air bladders inside of it weren't properly inflated.
The six-count suit claimed the Chicago Board of Education should have known the air bladders in the helmets were not properly inflated when they were worn during a game.
Listen to Evan Moore share details on the lawsuit.
The lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount of money from the Board of Education and Riddell.
The Sun-Times also reported the Chicago Board of Education hired an investigator who determined the air bladders found in Andre's helmet “were inappropriately inflated and/or unable to hold air within the crown and back/rear air bladders.”
"I've never seen a Riddell rep, or even a handout stating what proper inflation should be. Plus, it's really a person-to-person thing. Each player likes their air different, and they all complain when it's too tight. Which, in the helmet company's defense, is the actual problem," Phillips High SchooI assistant coach Dana Robinson said.
"I don't believe there's a resolution because every football player in the world has a different-size head, thus meaning there can never be a uniformed air amount. Maybe a minimum air point but that's it," Robinson said.
Kimberly Archie, a legal consultant on cases involving football-related head injuries, said the helmet evaluation system is far from perfect.
"Air bladders by design are difficult at best for the end user to be using it as needed to not increase the harm of brain injury," Archie said. "What system does the manufacturer or sport have in place to ensure reasonable proper use? Who checks it? Is there an equipment check each game and practice that denotes that the helmets had proper inflation of bladders? Do they write it in a log?"
Erin Griffin, the vice president of marketing and communications for Riddell, told DNAinfo in an email that the helmet manufacturer "does not comment on pending litigation."
The Chicago Board of Education was unavailable for comment.
The family of Andre Smith was unavailable for comment.
The death was the second to hit the Smith household. Andre’s father, Eric, died in 2000 after a motorcycle accident.
At the time of Andre's death, he was the seventh high school football player in America to die from on-the-field injuries.
Earlier this year, DNAinfo reported that several Chicago Public League coaches complained of using uncertified football equipment.
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