High school head injury lawsuit filed

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High school football head injury concussion lawsuit filed
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High school head injury lawsuit filed
FILE - In this July 29, 2014 file photo, Joseph Siprut, left, attorney to Daniel Bukal, a star quarterback at Notre Dame College Prep in Niles from 1999 to 2003, listens while attorney Steve Berman speaks at a news conference. Bukal, a former high school quarterback followed in the steps of one-time pro and college players Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014, by suing a sports governing body - in this case the Illinois High School Association - saying it didn't do enough to protect him from concussions when he played and still doesn't do enough to protect current players. (AP Photo/Stacy Thacker, File)
Former NFL player Shawn Wooden speak with members of the media after a hearing on the proposed NFL concussion settlement Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2014, outside of the U.S. Courthouse in Philadelphia. If the NFL's estimated $1 billion settlement of concussion claims isn't approved, the league will pursue "scorched-earth litigation," a lead lawyer for former players said Wednesday. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
FILE - In this Aug. 16, 2014, file photo, Arkansas guard Brey Cook (74) wears a Riddell SpeedFlex helmet during a preseason NCAA college football practice in Fayetteville, Ark. With lawsuits and concern regarding concussions hanging over every level of football, the race to develop safer helmets and other equipment has never been more intense. (AP Photo/Gareth Patterson, File)
Adrian Arrington, a former safety at Eastern Illinois University, plays with his children from left, Andria Arrington, Ayana Lucero, and Isaiah Dye, while talking about enduring five concussions while playing, some so severe he has says he couldn't recognize his parents afterward, during an interview with The Associated Press at his home Tuesday, July 29, 2014, in Bloomington Ill. Subsequent headaches, memory loss, seizures and depression made it difficult to work or even care for his children. The NCAA agreed to settle a class-action head-injury lawsuit by creating a $70 million fund to diagnose thousands of current and former college athletes to determine if they suffered brain trauma playing football, hockey, soccer and other contact sports. Arrington was the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)
Adrian Arrington, a former safety at Eastern Illinois University, sits with his daughter, Andria, as he talks about enduring five concussions while playing football, some so severe he has says he couldn't recognize his parents afterward, during an interview with The Associated Press at his home Tuesday, July 29, 2014, in Bloomington Ill. Subsequent headaches, memory loss, seizures and depression made it difficult to work or even care for his children. On Tuesday, the NCAA agreed to settle a class-action head-injury lawsuit by creating a $70 million fund to diagnose thousands of current and former college athletes to determine if they suffered brain trauma playing football, hockey, soccer and other contact sports. Arrington was the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)
Deanna Kathumbi-Jackson, rear, of Sandy Springs, Ga., participates in a drill with Atlanta Falcons fullback Patrick DiMarco during a youth football safety clinic at Kings Ridge Christian School on Tuesday, March 18, 2014, in Alpharetta, Ga. The purpose was to educate mothers on concussion symptoms, proper tackling techniques and correct fitting of helmets and pads as the NFL seeks to keep the sport growing amid lawsuits brought by former players during the last few years. (AP Photo/Jason Getz)
Mary Ann Easterling, the widow of former NFL player Ray Easterling, reacts during a news conference, Tuesday, April 9, 2013, in Philadelphia, after a hearing to determine whether the NFL faces years of litigation over concussion-related brain injuries. Thousands of former players have accused league officials of concealing what they knew about the risk of playing after a concussion. The lawsuits allege the league glorified violence as the game became a $9 billion-a-year industry. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Former NFL player Dorsey Levens listens to Mary Ann Easterling, the widow of former NFL player Ray Easterling, during a news conference Tuesday, April 9, 2013, in Philadelphia after a hearing to determine whether the NFL faces years of litigation over concussion-related brain injuries. Thousands of former players have accused league officials of concealing what they knew about the risk of playing after a concussion. The lawsuits allege the league glorified violence as the game became a $9 billion-a-year industry. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Former NFL player Dorsey Levens, right, extends a hand as Mary Ann Easterling, the widow of former NFL player Ray Easterling, reacts as former NFL player Kevin Turner, left, looks on during a news conference, Tuesday, April 9, 2013, in Philadelphia, after a hearing to determine whether the NFL faces years of litigation over concussion-related brain injuries. Thousands of former players have accused league officials of concealing what they knew about the risk of playing after a concussion. The lawsuits allege the league glorified violence as the game became a $9 billion-a-year industry. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
FILE - In this July, 1975 file photo, Atlanta Falcons safety Ray Easterling is shown. A concussion-related lawsuit bringing together scores of cases has been filed in federal court, accusing the NFL of hiding information that linked football-related head trauma to permanent brain injuries. Lawyers for former players say more than 80 pending lawsuits are consolidated in the "master complaint" filed Thursday, June 7, 2012, in Philadelphia. Mary Ann Easterling will remain a plaintiff despite the April suicide of her husband, Ray, who had been a named plaintiff in a suit filed last year. (AP Photo/File)
FILE - In this Sept. 10, 1978, file photo, Atlanta Falcons' Ray Easterling, center, grimaces while aided by team trainers after getting injured during the second quarter of an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams in Los Angeles. Easterling, who helped lead the team's vaunted defense in the 1970s and later filed a high-profile lawsuit against the NFL targeting the league's handling of concussion-related injuries, died Thursday, April 19, 2012, in Richmond, Va., said his wife, Mary Ann Easterling. He was 62. (AP Photo/Scott Harms)
FILE - In this Jan. 10, 2010 file photo, New England Patriots linebacker Junior Seau (55) warms up on the field before an NFL wild-card playoff football game in Foxborough, Mass. The family of Junior Seau has opted out of the proposed NFL settlement with former players over concussion-related injuries. The family will continue its wrongful death lawsuit against the league. Seau, a star linebacker for 20 seasons who made 11 Pro Bowls, committed suicide in 2012. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)
FILE - This Oct. 3, 2011 file photo shows NFL football Commissioner Roger Goodell answering questions from the media after speaking about concussions at the Congress of Neurological Surgeons, in Washington. The NFL moved Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012 to try to shut down lawsuits filed by thousands of former players who say they suffered or fear suffering permanent brain injuries from football-related concussions, calling the issue a "labor dispute" that should be resolved not by courts but by terms of the collective bargaining agreement. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)
FILE - In this Oct. 7, 2007 file photo, New England Patriots linebacker Junior Seau runs with the ball after an interception during New England's 34-17 win over the Cleveland Browns in a football game at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. Senior U.S. District Judge Anita Brody in Philadelphia, announced Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013, that the NFL and more than 4,500 former players want to settle concussion-related lawsuits for $765 million. The plaintiffs include at least 10 members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, along with and the family of Seau, who committed suicide last year. The global settlement would fund medical exams, concussion-related compensation and medical research. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson, File)
Plaintiff Adrian Arrington talks with his attorney Joe Siprut (not pictured) about a class action lawsuit on December 18, 2012, against the NCAA. Arrington said he suffered five concussions while playing college football at Eastern Illinois University and now suffers from seizures and blackouts. (Phil Velasquez Chicago Tribune/MCT via Getty Images)
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CHICAGO (AP) - A former high school quarterback followed in the steps of one-time pro and college players Saturday by suing a sports governing body - in this case the Illinois High School Association - saying it didn't do enough to protect him from concussions when he played and still doesn't do enough to protect current players.

The lawsuit, filed in Cook County Circuit Cook on the same day Illinois wrapped up its last high school football championship games, is the first instance in which legal action has been taken for former high school players as a whole against a group responsible for prep sports in a state. Such litigation could snowball, as similar suits targeting associations in other states are planned.

The lead plaintiff is Daniel Bukal, a star quarterback at Notre Dame College Prep in Niles until 2003. He received multiple concussions at the suburban Chicago school and, a decade on, still suffers frequent migraines and some memory loss, according to the 51-page suit. Bukal didn't play beyond high school.

The IHSA did not have concussion protocols in place, putting Bukal and other high school players at risk, and those protocols remain deficient, the lawsuit alleges. It calls on the Bloomington-based IHSA to tighten its rules regarding head injuries at the 800 high schools it oversees. It doesn't seek specific monetary damages.

"In Illinois high school football, responsibility - and, ultimately, fault - for the historically poor management of concussions begins with the IHSA," the lawsuit states. It calls high school concussions "an epidemic" and says the "most important battle being waged on high school football fields ... is the battle for the health and lives of" young players.

In a brief emailed statement, IHSA Executive Director Marty Hickman said he wanted to keep the spotlight Saturday on the playoff finals. But he said concussion management is "a top priority" and that the IHSA "will continue to be a leader" in reducing head-injury risks.

Bukal's Chicago-based attorney Joseph Siprut, who filed a similar lawsuit against the NCAA in 2011, provided an advance copy of the new lawsuit to The Associated Press. The college sports governing body agreed this year to settle the NCAA lawsuit, including by committing $70 million for a medical monitoring program to test athletes for brain trauma. The deal is awaiting a judge's approval.

The IHSA lawsuit seeks similar medical monitoring of Illinois high school football players, though it doesn't spell out how such a program would operate. It contends new regulations should include mandatory baseline testing of all players before each season to help determine the severity of any concussion during the season.

The lawsuit only targets the Illinois association. High school football isn't overseen by a single national body equivalent to the NCAA, but rather by school boards, state law and 50 separate associations. Siprut says he intends to file suits against other state governing bodies.

Washington was the first state to pass laws addressing sports concussions in children in 2009, including by barring concussed players from returning to the same game. All 50 states have now adopted such laws.

But the new lawsuit alleges governing bodies, like the IHSA, have had patchy implementation of state mandates.

Around 140,000 out of nearly 8 million high school athletes have concussions every year, most of them football players, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations. Some estimates put the number of concussions much higher.

Eight high school students died directly from playing football in 2013 - six from head and two from neck injuries - while there were none last year in college or professional football, a 2014 report by National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research says.

Speaking Saturday, Siprut said the legal action wasn't intended to undermine America's most popular sport.

"This is not a threat or attack on football," he said. "Football is in danger in Illinois and other states - especially at the high school level - because of how dangerous it is. If football does not change internally, it will die. The talent well will dry up as parents keep kids out of the sport- and that's how a sport dies."

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