Ambulance

A former Ridgeline High School football player in northern Utah is suing the Cache County School District, alleging that he suffered lasting injury after being told to keep playing football over a period of nearly two weeks after a concussion in 2017.

The lawsuit states that then-senior Konnor Finn had experienced a “helmet-to-helmet hit” during practice on Oct. 11, 2017, and then complained of concussion symptoms to the defensive line coach. That coach allegedly told him to “man up,” “quit being a (expletive)” and “get back out there.”

Finn felt unable to defy the coach’s instruction to keep playing, the lawsuit states, leading to multiple “jarring blows to the body and head” in games and practice over the next two weeks while his brain was at heightened vulnerability due to the concussion.

Tim Smith, the public information officer for Cache County School District, said the essence of the claim is the school district didn’t respond appropriately to the situation.

“There’s always several sides to a situation,” Smith said. “I think that’s why it’s going to court.”

After his initial injury, Finn kept participating in football until Oct. 23, 2017, when another coach noticed that he didn’t look well in the weight room and had an athletic trainer perform a concussion evaluation — it was determined Finn was likely concussed and further evaluations were needed. Finn was diagnosed with traumatic brain injury and post-concussive syndrome at Budge Clinic around Oct. 25 — two full weeks after the initial collision.

According to the lawsuit, Finn was admitted to Primary Children’s Medical Center for concussion symptom treatment and post-concussive syndrome around Oct. 31.

The lawsuit describes an ongoing ebb of symptoms including pain, blackouts and seizures. After treatment from several caregivers, Finn still suffers blackouts, depression and memory loss. According to the lawsuit, the family has accrued “significant medical bills from emergency services, hospital stays, concussion therapy and the need for continued medical care.”

District spokesman Smith said the CCSD has been implementing changes to student athlete safety for several years. The district has a partnership with Intermountain Healthcare to provide care to student athletes at practice and games. Smith said the district tests helmets and requires coaches to complete concussion training. He said the district has their artificial fields “concussion tested” and adjusts the field’s filament accordingly.

“We’re definitely concerned about the safety of our students,” Smith said. “Our intent is to make sure our coaches have the training and certifications that will help them be more effective.”

The lawsuit seeks damages upward of $300,000 from Cache County School District, its board of education and the Utah High School Activities Association. No coaches are named as defendants.

The lawsuit states the defendants “by and through its agents” failed to follow concussion protocols, and their breaches of duty were the “legal and direct and proximate cause of Mr. Finn’s injuries, suffering and damages.”

The lawsuit was filed in First District Court in Logan recently, after Finn filed a Notice of Claim on Oct. 10 and Oct. 11, 2018. The lawsuit states over the course of 60 days no defendant replied to the notice.