Football helmet company sued over claims of fewer concussions - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Football helmet company sued over claims of fewer concussions

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The Midwestern Midget Football Club is suing the maker of a helmet claiming to reduce the risk of concussions in children who wear it.

Midwestern filed suit in federal court against RBG Holding Company and its subsidiaries, including Riddell Inc. and Easton-Bell, alleging their claims that the Revolution helmet substantially reduces the risk of concussion is misleading. The club is seeking class action status, saying it filed on behalf of all West Virginia residents who purchased a Revolution helmet over the past four years.

According to the complaint, the helmet has been on the market since 2002, the same year Riddell provided a research grant to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center for a study comparing concussion rates among high school athletes wearing the Revolution helmets vs. those wearing traditional helmets.

The suit claims Riddell used the results of that study to claim the helmet reduced concussions by 31 percent even though UPMC recommended against it. Other groups expressed concern that the study suffered "serious, if not fatal, methodological flaws," including the fact that it discounted low-impact hits, didn't account for the older study participants and didn't account for age-related deterioration of non-Revolution helmets used in the study, many of which were older, reconditioned helmets.

No youth players were part of the study, they said.

"Particularly troubling is the fact that Riddell touted the Revolution helmet as safer for youth players, when in fact Riddell never tested the helmet on youth players," the suit states.

"Despite Riddell's representations to the contrary, there is no material difference in the Revolution and other football helmets in regard to concussion prevention, and certainly not a 31 percent reduction as claimed. Scientific studies show that the brand of football helmet makes no difference in a player's risk of concession and that high tech helmets like the Revolution do not reduce concussion risk for players any more effectively than low-cost helmets."

The suit alleges buyers are paying top price for a product that doesn't deliver the promised benefits.

Midwestern says it buys between 12 and 24 new Revolution helmets each year and sends older helmets to be refurbished at Riddell's sister-company, All American Sports. About 150 children participate in its football program each year, the club said.

The suit was filed by Marc Weintraub of Bailey & Glasser LLP, Charleston, and Michael Murphy of Bailey & Glasser's Washington office.

Named as defendants were Riddell; All American Sports Corporation; Riddell Sports Group, Inc.; Easton-Bell Sports, Inc.; Easton-Bell Sports, LLC; EB Sport Corporation; and RBG Holdings Corporation.