- Associated Press - Monday, February 24, 2014

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - A Tampa high school football player who hit his head during practice in 2013 intends to sue the Hillsborough County School District, saying that a piece of unattended equipment and a trainer’s delay in seeking medical attention put his life in danger.

Wharton High School player Sean McNamee wasn’t wearing a helmet when warming up before drills in October. He lost his balance and struck an unattended paint machine used to line the field.

He was in a coma for nine days. Doctors told his family that the 16-year-old might not survive. McNamee emerged from the coma but has a titanium plate in his head and requires physical and cognitive therapy, said his attorney, Steve Yerrid.

“There is no question, Sean suffered a devastating and permanent brain injury that will have significant adverse impacts upon him for the rest of his life,” Yerrid wrote in a letter to the district’s attorney dated Feb. 21.

School spokesman Steve Hegarty said the district doesn’t comment on pending litigation.

The letter serves as a notice of intent to sue the school district; to sue a government entity in Florida, the plaintiff must send the notice six months before the intended lawsuit.

State law allows a maximum $200,000 in damages if the school district is found liable in this case. If a jury were to find the school district liable for an amount over $200,000, the Florida Legislature would have to approve the amount in what is called a claims bill.

On Oct. 16, 2013, McNamee was a linebacker/defensive end and was playing catch with some teammates before drills. Yerrid said McNamee lost his balance, came into contact with another player and hit the field striping machine.

Security cameras on campus show that McNamee walked into the locker room, holding his head. About a half hour later, McNamee’s car is seen leaving campus, and his sister found him at home, disoriented. The teen’s family rushed him to the hospital, where he was placed in a medically induced coma and had part of his skull removed.

Yerrid wrote that the team’s trainer, who knew about the injury, “failed to adhere to proper protocol to evaluate Sean’s condition and obtain appropriate medical intervention.”

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