Attorneys for two Frostburg State football coaches and an athletic trainer filed a motion to dismiss the wrongful death lawsuit by the family of Derek Sheely, the fullback who sustained a fatal head injury during practice in August 2011.
The 26-page motion obtained by The Washington Times makes a number of surprising claims:
— The document repeatedly says helmets can prevent concussions and head injuries and offers the assertion as a defense.
“Additionally, any notion of such foreseeability is all the more implausible considering that the complaint admits that Mr. Sheely was wearing a helmet that the University purchased from Schutt Sports, relying on a 2011 Virginia Tech study that ranked the helmet manufactured by Schutt Sports as a ‘leading helmet’ in its ability to ‘protect against concussions’ and that he chose the helmet after a Schutt Sports representative told the team that ‘Schutt’s new technology can prevent head injuries.’”
Numerous studies have shown that, in fact, no specific helmet can prevent concussions.
— That running backs coach Jamie Schumacher, one of the Frostburg State defendants along with head coach Tom Rogish and athletic trainer Michael Sweitzer Jr., didn’t have knowledge of blood oozing from Sheely’s forehead on multiple occasions over two days before he collapsed.
— That what occurred at Frostburg State didn’t amount to gross negligence: “Putting Mr. Sheely back in the game with a headache and not ‘feeling right’ but displaying no other symptoms of concussion and wearing a ‘leading helmet’ in ‘prevent[ing] head injuries’ does not amount to gross negligence.”
My in-depth story earlier this week detailed the circumstances of Sheely’s death and the lawsuit filed in Montgomery County Circuit Court in August.
The NCAA and helmet manufacturer Schutt Sports are also defendants. The three Frostburg State defendants are represented by two Maryland assistant attorneys general.
A separate court filing asked that the case be moved to Allegany County to reduce the commute times of the Frostburg State defendants and potential witnesses.
Here’s the complete document: