Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed Over Teen’s Football Brain Injury

A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed against a Washington state high school, staff members and a doctor, after a teen died following repeated blows to the head suffered while playing football. 

The complaint was filed by the family of Drew Swank, who died in 2009 from multiple traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). Defendants named in the lawsuit include Valley Christian School, it’s administrator, football coach and a doctor who treated him following one of the first injuries.

According to allegations raised in the football brain injury lawsuit, Swank initially suffered a concussion during a game on September 18, 2009. He was experiencing severe headaches, but was not examined by the school’s staff. However, his own family doctor determined he was suffering from a concussion as a result of the game and restricted him from playing football.

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By the middle of the next week, Swank indicated that the headaches were gone and his doctor lifted the restriction, allowing him to play football again. Although he was subsequently observed to be playing poorly and sluggishly, the school kept him in the game. The lawsuit claims that at one point the head coach, Jim Puryear, grabbed him by the face mask in anger and violently shook his head.

He was later hit by another player, and when he tried to get up he vomited and fell down. Four days later he died from injuries associated with a brain injury and two months later the school disbanded its football program.

The lawsuit alleges the school and its staff failed to properly protect Swank, and accuses his doctor of misdiagnosing the football brain injury.

Traumatic brain injuries are one of the leading causes of death and permanent disability world wide, with 1.4 to 1.7 million people suffering a the head injuries each year. Such brain damage often result in a victim requiring extensive medical treatment and permanent around-the-clock care.

Although most of the recent media attention has focused on the risk of brain injury among athletes, some of the more common causes include motorcycle and automobile accidents, which account for about 20% of all traumatic brain injuries suffered in the United States.


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