Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against Riddell Will Continue, Judge Rules

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A Texas federal judge told helmet manufacturer Riddell Inc. that it will not be able to escape a wrongful death lawsuit, denying the company’s motion to dismiss based on the state’s statute of limitations.

DuQuan Myers played high school football in the Dallas area from 2005 through 2009, during which his mother, Letitia Wilbourn, claimed that he suffered 15 concussions and “innumerable subconcussive blows to the head.” Myers took his own life in February 2017, and his mother filed suit against Riddell in March 2019, alleging that the company’s football helmets were defective and caused his death. Attorney Vincent Paul Circelli told Law360 that doctors at Boston University confirmed that Myers suffered from CTE as a result of the concussions and injuries he faced in high school.

Riddell and its parent company, BRG Sports, fought back against the suit, claiming that their helmets had an explicit warning that they did not prevent concussions or brain injuries. Riddell also sought to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that the two-year statute of limitations ended a month before Wilbourn filed suit. Wilbourn, however, countered by arguing that the statute of limitations tolled since Myers was a putative class member in an Illinois class action lawsuit. This lawsuit featured similar claims to the ones Wilbourn is bringing here, and that case has since lost its bid for class certification.

There have been a number of lawsuits filed against Riddell regarding their helmets’ ability to protect wearers from brain injuries. In July 2016, a group of former NFL players sued Riddell, claiming that the company failed to warn wearers that its helmets would not protect players against concussions. The Illinois appellate court in that case ruled that the lawsuit was barred by the state’s two-year statute of limitations. Meanwhile, former high school and college players sued Riddell in October 2018, making similar claims. It was this lawsuit that Myers was a part of that eventually lost its bid for class certification. We will continue to monitor the situation.