Parents Try To Quash Pop Warner Subpoena

The Sports Law Insider has previously reported on the class-action suit started by parents whose sons played Pop Warner football as children and subsequently were found to suffer from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) after their deaths. The original complaint accused Pop Warner of failing to monitor games, practices, rules, equipment, and medical care to minimize long-term risks associated with brain injuries, failing to accurately diagnose brain injuries, and failing to approve the best equipment available. The complaint also accused USA Football of promoting safety programs of questionable value and issues flawed research to back up claims that its programs are effective in reducing the risk of concussions.

The case was brought in 2016 by two parents, Kimberly Archie and Joe Cornell, whose sons were found to have suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) during postmortem autopsies, and two more parents, Debra McCrae and Shannon Barnes, had since joined. Archie’s son Paul Bright Jr. played from 1997 to 2004 and started to exhibit reckless and erratic behavior around 2008 before committing suicide in 2014. Joe Cornell’s son Tyler played from 1997 to 2002 and suffered from depression and other behavioral issues after his Pop Warner career. He also tragically committed suicide in 2014.

Now, on Thursday, July 5, 2018, the parents have asked the California Federal Court to deny Pop Warner’s request for police records related to Tyler Cornell’s April 2014 suicide. The parents have called the information irrelevant and cite privacy rights to block Pop Warner’s subpoena request to the Los Angeles Police Department for reports and documents about the suicide. The subpoena specifically requested witness statements, investigative reports and photographs, written and recorded interviews and any other supplemental reports.

In the parents’ motion to quash, the defendants’ subpoena is categorized as “unreasonable, irrelevant and an oppressive demand and further, an unreasonable violation of plaintiff’s right to privacy.” The motion also states, “As the records pertain to a suicide, there would be highly graphic photographs of the decedent that are irrelevant and invasive of plaintiff’s right to privacy, records from [the police department] surrounding the tragic passing of plaintiff’s deceased child are irrelevant to this action and have no bearing on this CTE case.” The plaintiffs do not believe that Pop Warner has shown any reason why the families’ privacy should be invaded other than the fact that the plaintiff has filed a class-action lawsuit against Pop Warner.

It will be up to Judge Phillip S. Gutierrez to decide if the subpoena is permissible case discovery.


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