Moms are taking a new stand against the country's largest youth football program by suing Pop Warner.
A class action lawsuit was filed by two mothers of former youth players who died with CTE or chronic traumatic encephalopathy. It is the biggest challenge yet to youth football.
The lawsuit alleges negligence and fraud, saying the nations largest youth football league knowingly put players in danger and ignored risks of concussion. The complaint not only hits Pop Warner, but tackles the USA Football Heads Up program. Funded by the NFL, USA Football is partly accused of giving false claims on concussion numbers from its program.
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The complaint names the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment. It accuses NOCSAE of failing to protect young players from the danger of brain trauma and approving helmets not designed to protect young players.
After more than 20 years of discussion, NOCSAE still has never issued a safety standard for youth helmets.
At the core of the lawsuit, Pop Warner is charged with "failure to monitor practices, games, rules, equipment and medical care to minimize the long-term risks associated with brain injuries including repetitive sub-concussive hits." It is also accused of failure to diagnose and record brain injuries accurately, and of failure to approve the best equipment available.
The court filing alleges Pop Warner and the other defendants "acted with callous indifference" and "reckless abandon."
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Kimberly Archie for her son Paul Bright Jr. and for Jo Cornell, the surviving mother of Tyler Cornell. Both boys had played Pop Warner football and both died with CTE. CTE is a neurological condition caused by repeated hits to the head. Both mothers say in the lawsuit that their sons experienced behavioral issues up until they died.
The class-action suit covers millions who have played since 1997.
Each year, 250,000 kids play football for Pop Warner -- some as young as 5.
After necn Investigates reached out to them, USA Football and NOCSAE issued the following responses:
"We don't comment on pending litigation matters," USA Football said in a statement. "We stand by the growing body of research that shows Heads Up Football is effective."
"I have just this afternoon received a copy of the complaint filed yesterday, and have not finished reviewing it, so I am not able to comment in any meaningful way," said Executive Director and General Counsel Michael Oliver of NOCSAE.
Pop Warner still has not responded to necn Investigates' request for comment.