A middle school football player allegedly received brain damage during a football game, and now he’s suing Horry County Schools.
A juvenile attending North Myrtle Beach Middle School identified only as L.W. was hit by multiple players after the second quarter buzzer during an Oct. 20, 2016 football game, according to the suit filed recently by his guardian, Sarah Wood.
The suit claims that L.W. “voiced to his teammates and to coaching staff that he was having difficulty with his balance/equilibrium following this hit,” as well as exhibiting “outward signs of confusion, loss of balance, and visual impairment.”
Despite “open and obvious signs of head trauma,” L.W. was put back in the game, where he received more hits “thereby seriously exacerbating his head trauma,” according the suit.
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L.W. could also be seen “staggering down the sidelines during the third quarter and attempting to continue plays after the whistle, but was at no point removed from the game,” the suit claims.
That same day after the game ended, the suit state, L.W. was “diagnosed with a serious brain injury.”
As a result of the injury, L.W. could not attend classes due to short-term and long-term memory loss, according to the suit.
Court documents claim the district was reckless and grossly negligent in failing to enforce school policies and procedures regarding concussion and head trauma protocols, failing to recognize that L.W. had a head injury, failing to remove him from the game and failing to give him treatment, among others.
The suit asks the county pay medical expenses and other damages.
In an email, school district spokesperson Lisa Bourcier said, “The District does not provide any commentary on substantive matters relating to pending litigation.”
Attorney Scott Evans, who represents Wood, said that the traumatic brain injury “involves a concussion and memory loss. A TBI would be more severe than the concussion.”
Evans couldn’t go into more detail about the case because it involves a minor and said he couldn’t say whether or not L.W. was still in school.
According to the school district’s Procedures for Management of Sports-Related Concussion, “any athlete who has symptoms of a concussion and who is not stable ... is to be transported immediately to the nearest emergency department via ambulance.”
The procedure manual lists decreasing level of consciousness, unusual drowsiness, difficulty paying attention, and mental status changes as symptoms of a concussion, among others.
According the manual, if any athlete with a suspected concussion is not sent for immediate medical attention, they must be continuously observed until evaluated by a health care professional.
The suit says that despite being hit before halftime and staggering on the sidelines during the third quarter, L.W. was never removed from the game.