USA Football Seeks Dismissal of Pop Warner Class Claims

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By Steven M. Sellers

Nov. 3 — A proposed youth football concussion class action should be dismissed for failure to state any claim for relief, according to a brief filed by USA Football Oct. 31 ( Archie v. Pop Warner Little Scholars, Inc. , C.D. Cal., No. 16-cv-06603, motion to dismiss filed 10/31/16 ).

USA Football Inc., based in Indianapolis, contends the parents of two young men who developed a chronic brain disease after playing Pop Warner youth football can’t show the organization is liable for their alleged injuries.

Paul Bright Jr. and Tyler Cornell played youth football beginning in the 1990s, and both died in 2014. Autopsies showed they had chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease associated with repetitive head impacts.

Their parents claim Pop Warner Little Scholars Inc. and USA Football misled them about the safety of youth football and the helmets used in the sport.

But USA Football says a tackling program it implemented in 2013, years after Bright and Cornell played youth football, can’t be a basis for its liability.

The league also disputes the claim that it “approved misleading NOCSAE helmet standard labels placed on the helmets,” noting a lack of evidence that it had any duty or authority to approve the labels.

NOCSAE, shorthand for National Operating Committee Standards Athletic Equipment, is a national commission formed in 1969 to reduce sports injuries through helmet performance standards.

The proposed class would extend to all youths “who participated in the Pop Warner youth tackle football program between 1997 to the present and are suffering or have suffered from brain injuries, damage or disease.”

A second class would consist of adults who enrolled their children in the program those years.

“We are confident in the substance of our motion, and look forward to oral argument,” USA Football attorney Gary Wolensky, of Buchalter Nemer in Irvine, Calif., told Bloomberg BNA Nov. 3.

A request for comment sent to counsel for the plaintiffs didn’t receive a response Nov. 3.

The law offices of Girardi & Keese represent plaintiffs Kimberly Archie and Jo Cornell.

Buchalter Nemer represents USA Football Inc.

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

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steven Patrick at spatrick@bna.com

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