Riddell Helmet Concussion Case Dodges Dismissal

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By Steven M. Sellers

June 22 — A would-be class action against Riddell, Inc. may proceed for its allegedly misleading football helmet safety claims, the Southern District of West Virginia ruled June 17 ( Midwestern Midget Football Club, Inc. v. Riddell, Inc., 2016 BL 194343, S.D. W.Va., No. 15-cv-00244, 6/17/16 ).

Midwestern Midget Football Club, Inc. adequately alleged that Riddell's ads—based on a 2006 study of the concussion-fighting qualities of its Revolution helmets—misled buyers of youth helmets, which had not been included in the study, the court said.

The amended complaint plausibly supported the club's state law claims that it and other youth helmet consumers paid a premium based on Riddell's marketing that those helmets also reduced concussion risks by as much as 31 percent, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia said.

The alleged misrepresentations were based on a University of Pittsburgh Medical Center study criticized by Midwestern in its amended complaint.

That report, which found Revolution helmets better than traditional helmets at reducing concussions, was a “statistically unsound study paid for by Riddell and co-authored by a Riddell employee,” Midwestern alleges.

Unjust enrichment claims against Riddell also survived Riddell's motion to dismiss. Midwestern plausibly alleged the company “knowingly collected a market premium for its youth helmets thanks to its misleading marketing claims,” the court said.

Judge John T. Copenhaver Jr. wrote the opinion.

The law offices of Bailey & Glasser represented Midwestern Midget Football Club, Inc.

Kelley Drye & Warren, as well as Hendrickson & Long represented Riddell, Inc.

To contact the reporter on this story: Steven M. Sellers in Washington at ssellers@bna.com.

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Steven Patrick at spatrick@bna.com and Nicholas Datlowe at ndatlowe@bna.com

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