Suit: Helmet failed Bogan football player who died after game

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The family of a Bogan High School football player who died of a head injury he suffered during a 2015 game filed a wrongful death lawsuit against helmet manufacturer Riddell and the Chicago Board of Education on Friday.

Andre Smith, 17, died of blunt force head injuries he suffered in the final play of an Oct. 22, 2015 Bogan football game against Chicago Vocational at Stagg Stadium on the South Side, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office and reporting by the Chicago Sun-Times.

In the six-count suit, Smith’s mother, Jeanine Smith, claimed Riddell failed to warn her son and others that the Revolution Speed helmet he wore was dangerous if the air bladders the helmet utilized were not properly inflated. Additionally, the suit claimed, the Chicago Board of Education should have known the air bladders in the helmets were not properly inflated when he wore the helmet during the game.

Smith was struck by another player during a kick return play, Stagg Stadium announcer Jimmy Smith said.

He was knocked to the ground, got up and later complained of a headache before he became unconscious, according to the suit. Smith was taken to Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, but he never regained consciousness and was pronounced dead the following morning.

The Revolution Speed-style helmet he was wearing during the game utilized several air bladders inside the helmet to make it fit snugly to the player’s head and protect players from head injury when properly inflated, the suit said. Following Smith’s injury, an investigator hired by the Chicago Board of Education found the air bladders in his helmet “were inappropriately inflated and/or unable to hold air within the crown and back/rear air bladders.”

The suit seeks an unspecified amount of money in two-counts against the Chicago Board of Education and an unspecified amount of money in four additional counts against Riddell.

The Chicago Board of Education could not immediately be reached for comment Friday evening.

Erin Griffin, a spokeswoman for Riddell, declined to comment.

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