Youth Football Group Praises Passage of California Youth Football Act, Attorneys from the Plaintiff and Defense Side Weigh In

Aug 16, 2019

The California Youth Football Alliance (CAYFA) wasted little time playing up the signing of AB 1, the California Youth Football Act, by Governor Gavin Newsom on July 31.
 
“AB 1 provides the most comprehensive and details set of safety standards in the United States,” CAYFA said. “Further, AB 1 serves as the first state legislation in the United States to specify youth tackle football safety standards, pioneering a new way forward for all youth tackle football in America.”
 
Attorneys from both side of the aisle were also ready to weigh in.
 
“These types of laws may do away with the defense bar’s belief that ‘the first concussion is free,” said Michael V. Kaplen of De Caro & Kaplen, LLP (https://brainlaw.com), Past President of Brain Injury Association of New York State. “I have frequently said that football is a concussion delivery system. If laws are enacted to limit contact and the exposure to concussion risk, then the failure on the part of teams, organizations, coaches, and trainers to enforce these new standards may create legal liability when a player sustains a concussion. The concept of assumption of the risk, becomes less of an impediment to recovery, when there are standards in place designed to protect players from the risks previously assumed, which are violated. Once a duty of protection is assumed, liability may result from the failure to adhere to this duty.”
 
Meanwhile, Steven Pachman, a partner at Montgomery McCracken (https://www.mmwr.com/attorney/steven-pachman/, offered a different perspective.
 
“The new law is a step in the right direction, but there are still a lot of open questions about its effectiveness,” said Pachman, who is editor-in-chief of Sports Medicine and the Law (https://sportsmedicinelaws.com/). “For example, as with other similar laws, how will it be enforced? Without adequate teeth, will schools or programs lacking the financial resources comply? And to the extent there is compliance, who will shoulder the burden of requirements like increased education and certification and hiring medical professionals for games? Will it fall harder on schools or programs without adequate resources? Also, while well-intended, ‎will the law actually have a positive impact on the health and safety of the athlete with so many lingering questions surrounding the existence of CTE, its prevalence, properly diagnosing it, and what causes ‘CTE’? From my perspective as a defense lawyer, potential defendants still need to ensure compliance to better defend themselves in the event of a lawsuit following an injury or bad outcome on the field.”


 

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