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Dad of late ex-Ohio high school football player sues helmet makers

The father of a former Ohio high school football player who died in 2016 after a seizure led to his drowning has sued the manufacturers of helmets worn by Cody Hamblin.

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Darren Hamblin alleges in a suit filed in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court that Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) suffered by his son while he played at Miamisburg High School led to seizure and death.

The suit names Riddell Sports Group and the parent company of Schutt Sports as defendants. The plaintiffs allege negligence, product liability, negligent misrepresentation, fraud and wrongful death.

Cody Hamblin, 22, died May 29, 2016, in Fayetteville, Ohio, when he was fishing during Memorial Day weekend with his grandfather. He had a sudden seizure while on a boat, fell overboard into the water and died within a minute, according to the suit.

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CTE is only determined by postmortem analysis, and an autopsy was performed on Cody Hamblin on June 30, 2016, the suit said.

The court document claims that Hamblin played football from 2001, when he was 8 years old, until 2011 and that he developed brain and neurological damage while using those companies’ helmets.

The lawsuit alleges that the plaintiffs “did not know the long-term effects of repeat brain injuries, subconcussive hits and cumulative brain trauma and relied on” the defendants to protect them.

“Upon information and belief, there are no specific safety standards for youth sports,” the suit alleges. “In other words, (the companies’) ‘safety standards’ utilized in the design and manufacture of their tackle football helmets fail to differentiate between adult tackle football participants and children tackle football participants, despite the drastic and varying differences between the two.”

“Children possess unique features and vulnerabilities not possessed by fully developed, exceptionally fit adult athletes,” the suit said.

In addition, the suit said children are more vulnerable to head, neck and brain injuries than adults because youth football players’ heads and brains are disproportionately large compared to the rest of their bodies.

The suit cites design defects and that the companies failed to provide necessary and adequate information and made misrepresentations about their products.

The defendants have not yet filed an answer in court.

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