Author Topic: Lawsuit targets Pop Warner  (Read 5551 times)

Offline prab

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Lawsuit targets Pop Warner
« on: February 06, 2015, 06:12:10 PM »
Yesterday, the mother of a Wisconsin man who committed suicide in 2012 (aged 25) sued the Pop Warner organization claiming that injuries incurred while playing Pop Warner football led to his suicide.  The link below is to an AP article which gives details.  I would urge you to take a look at this article.  Although Pop Warner is the only defendant as of now, I fear that a similar suit may be coming to a court near any one of us soon.  If this doesn't get you to be 100% aware of and willing to enforce the NFHS concussion policy (our state has an even stronger policy) then make sure that your liability insurance is up to date.

http://www.kait8.com/story/28038283/pop-warner-youth-football-sued-over-wisconsin-mans-suicide

Offline Curious

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Re: Lawsuit targets Pop Warner
« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2015, 11:02:31 AM »
Yesterday, the mother of a Wisconsin man who committed suicide in 2012 (aged 25) sued the Pop Warner organization claiming that injuries incurred while playing Pop Warner football led to his suicide.  The link below is to an AP article which gives details.  I would urge you to take a look at this article.  Although Pop Warner is the only defendant as of now, I fear that a similar suit may be coming to a court near any one of us soon.  If this doesn't get you to be 100% aware of and willing to enforce the NFHS concussion policy (our state has an even stronger policy) then make sure that your liability insurance is up to date.

http://www.kait8.com/story/28038283/pop-warner-youth-football-sued-over-wisconsin-mans-suicide

+1 (especially about the liability insurance)

And as I've said before:  "Bring back leather helmets and remove facemasks if you really want to take the head out of football"

Offline bama_stripes

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Re: Lawsuit targets Pop Warner
« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2015, 07:44:58 AM »
I'm no kind of lawyer.  But I wonder how the mother has standing to sue.
At any rate, this will be a very tough case to prove.

Offline Rulesman

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Re: Lawsuit targets Pop Warner
« Reply #3 on: February 09, 2015, 07:47:37 AM »
I'm no kind of lawyer.  But I wonder how the mother has standing to sue.
Apparently, some kind of lawyer convinced her she did.
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Offline Atlanta Blue

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Re: Lawsuit targets Pop Warner
« Reply #4 on: February 09, 2015, 08:24:23 AM »
As the mother, she would certainly have standing.  At 25, there is even a reasonable chance he was still on his parent's insurance.  If so, there's your standing right there.  If he wasn't married, she is still next of kin, again, giving her standing.  Standing would be easy.

Proving causality is going to be the issue.  How many other things that the kid did could have lead to the same injuries?  Did he play hockey, lacrosse, soccer, skateboard, bicycle, etc.?  Proving that the CAUSE was football is going to be tough.  But if she can get in front of a jury, anything is possible.

Offline AlUpstateNY

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Re: Lawsuit targets Pop Warner
« Reply #5 on: February 09, 2015, 09:33:10 AM »
Certainly wouldn't want to seem suspicious, but far less concern about either "Standing" or "Casualty", this might simply be an effort to secure a settlement, for far less than $5 Million, from someone with deep pockets (Pop Warner Foundation), rather than deal with a prolonged legal action, that in the dreams of an ambitious trial attorney, could turn into a never ending "Class Action Lawsuit.

Offline Ralph Damren

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Re: Lawsuit targets Pop Warner
« Reply #6 on: February 10, 2015, 11:07:38 AM »
Beware of a jury of momma bears and poppa bears :o.....I recall reading this a few decades ago :

 Players : Baby Bear - a Little League pitcher (with big league aspirations)
               Momma Bear & Poppa Bear - parents of Baby Bear (looking forward to his big league signing
               bonus) eAt&
               $mitty -a rich real estate investor and new commish of Baby Bear's Little League.

 Act I :  $mitty felt that faking a bunt and swinging away could prove dangerous to a charging 3rd
           baseman and made a special rule calling the batter out if he did that.

 Act II : A line drive bounced off Baby Bear's noggin. Baby Bear wasn't hurt bad, but didn't dare
            to pitch anymore :o.

 Act III : Momma Bear & Poppa Bear felt that not daring to pitch would cost Baby Bear a baseball
              scholarship to USC or UCLA and a signing bonus with the Dodgers or Giants (should tell ya'
              the part of country it occurred it ;)).
 
 Act IV : Momma Bear & Poppa Bear sued $mitty.

 Act V : Bear's lawyer : "Why wasn't Baby Bear wearing a helmet?"
            $mitty : "The rules don't require it."
            Bear's lawyer : "The rules don't require that the batter is out if he fakes a bunt and swings
                                    away,but you made up a special rule...so you could have made up a
                                    special rule requiring pitchers to wear a batting helmet......"

 Act VI : A jury of Momma and Poppa Bears agreed yEs: yEs: yEs: yEs: yEs: yEs: yEs: yEs: yEs: yEs:

 Act VII : Smitty ain't as rich no more deadhorse: >:( :( :o 8] ??? ::) :P :-[ :-X :-\ :-* :'(   

Offline prab

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Re: Lawsuit targets Pop Warner
« Reply #7 on: February 10, 2015, 11:15:38 AM »
Whenever you read about anyone exercising his/her constitutional right to be STUPID, remember that that person also gets to vote and SIT ON JURIES!

The case mentioned in the OP has been filed in the Federal Court in Madison, WI.  I am in and out of that court on a semi regular basis and will try to update the forum on the court proceedings as they become available.

Offline prab

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Re: Lawsuit targets Pop Warner
« Reply #8 on: April 14, 2015, 11:00:02 AM »
On 4/1/2015, there was a telephone conference between the Federal Magistrate Judge and the interested parties.  On 4/2/2015, the Judge set the calendar for further proceedings.  In Federal civil cases, there are rarely any "in court" hearings prior to the final pretrial conference and actual trial.  The final pretrial conference is scheduled for 9/6/2016, with jury selection and trial to commence on 9/16/2016.    So, barring some unforeseen circumstances arising, all proceedings between now and September, 2016, will be handled by filings with the court.  (2016 is not a misprint!) 

Offline prab

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Re: Lawsuit targets Pop Warner
« Reply #9 on: March 10, 2016, 09:11:59 AM »
This case has been settled.  However, I have not been able to find the details of the settlement.  The following appears in court records:

STIPULATION of Dismissal with Prejudice (Smolinsky, Paul) (Entered: 03/10/2016)

Offline prab

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Re: Lawsuit targets Pop Warner
« Reply #10 on: July 05, 2016, 02:53:16 PM »
Apparently the settlement includes a confidentiality clause.  So, unless someone breaks confidentiality, that's all we are going to learn about the terms of the settlement.

http://usatodayhss.com/2016/pop-warner-settles-wrongful-death-lawsuit

Offline hefnerjm

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Re: Lawsuit targets Pop Warner
« Reply #11 on: August 15, 2016, 01:31:56 PM »
Apparently the settlement includes a confidentiality clause.  So, unless someone breaks confidentiality, that's all we are going to learn about the terms of the settlement.

http://usatodayhss.com/2016/pop-warner-settles-wrongful-death-lawsuit

Thanks for following up on this for us Prab.

Interesting quote from the article:
"Chernach played Pop Warner football for four years, beginning at age 11, in Wisconsin and Michigan, playing running back and linebacker. He also played high school football and was a wrestler and pole vaulter. Debra Pyka, his mother, told ABC News last year that her son’s demeanor changed in college: “I just couldn’t understand why a happy kid turned into someone so depressed.”

People never change in college...or battle depression during a major life change...do they?

This kid must have never had a concussion (documented) from pole vaulting or wrestling or riding his bike for Pop Warner to settle with such a difficult burden of proof on the plaintiff.
Coach: "I've been doing this 30 years!  I know the rules!"
Ref: "Are you married coach?"
Coach (suddenly offguard): "umm...yeah, why?"
Ref: "I've been married 30 years and my wife says there is still room for improvement"
Coach: "<silence>"

Offline Atlanta Blue

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Re: Lawsuit targets Pop Warner
« Reply #12 on: August 15, 2016, 02:02:43 PM »
Thanks for following up on this for us Prab.

Interesting quote from the article:
"Chernach played Pop Warner football for four years, beginning at age 11, in Wisconsin and Michigan, playing running back and linebacker. He also played high school football and was a wrestler and pole vaulter. Debra Pyka, his mother, told ABC News last year that her son’s demeanor changed in college: “I just couldn’t understand why a happy kid turned into someone so depressed.”

People never change in college...or battle depression during a major life change...do they?

This kid must have never had a concussion (documented) from pole vaulting or wrestling or riding his bike for Pop Warner to settle with such a difficult burden of proof on the plaintiff.

I agree, the burden of proof of proximate cause would have been VERY hard to meet.  But the Court of Public Opinion would have been brutal for Pop Warner to have to endure as well, in addition to their own fiscal costs of proceeding with a trial.

Perhaps the settlement was nominal, something for the mother to simply claim as a victory ("It wasn't about the money....").  If so, this may have been the best way out.  I would be surprised if the settlement was substantial.

Offline prab

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Re: Lawsuit targets Pop Warner
« Reply #13 on: November 01, 2017, 09:24:47 AM »
The Cap Times, a Madison, Wisconsin, paper, has an interesting follow up article regarding "The Future of Football".  It includes a statement regarding Debra Pyka, mother of the ex Pop Warner player who committed suicide which led to the lawsuit, "Today, her mission is to end youth tackle football in America."  If you are interested, article can be found at:

 http://host.madison.com/ct/news/local/the-future-of-football-how-concerns-about-head-injuries-are/article_5cde5092-404c-59ef-955e-05a080c36ff7.html

Offline FLAHL

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Re: Lawsuit targets Pop Warner
« Reply #14 on: November 01, 2017, 10:01:23 AM »
Thanks for the update Prab.  I don't have exact number because I don't work youth games anymore, but participation is down in our area.  Local organizations that had multiple JV teams in the past now only have one.  Others that had JV and varsity now only have varsity.  And some teams that still have both have 12 or 13 players on each.  We even had 2 high schools that were unable to field JV teams this year.  I fear the clock is ticking on the sport we all love so much.

Online JasonTX

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Re: Lawsuit targets Pop Warner
« Reply #15 on: November 01, 2017, 11:23:47 AM »
Thanks for the update Prab.  I don't have exact number because I don't work youth games anymore, but participation is down in our area.  Local organizations that had multiple JV teams in the past now only have one.  Others that had JV and varsity now only have varsity.  And some teams that still have both have 12 or 13 players on each.  We even had 2 high schools that were unable to field JV teams this year.  I fear the clock is ticking on the sport we all love so much.

Come to Texas.  We get more and more schools being built and fielding teams.  We don't have enough officials to keep up with the growth.