Teenagers are constantly being encouraged to participate in school-sponsored athletics. The immediate benefit is the healthy lifestyle that being a committed athlete demands. Most people will also agree that there are additional intangible benefits such as learning teamwork, working towards a positive goal, and understanding your personal responsibility to the larger community are equally important to the physical benefits of the workout.
When a high school coach acts irresponsibly and negligent, resulting in a serious, preventable, injury to one of his or her players, it is a serious concern on multiple levels. This may have been what happened and it has resulted in a recently filed lawsuit by the mother of a seriously injured St. Louis high school football player.
While 16, the boy suffered a series of seizures and strokes (apparently, from a burst blood vessel) while on the sidelines of one of his football games. He was hospitalized for close to 5 weeks and his medical bills racked up to over $200,000. The alleged cause of this brain trauma? A defective helmet that had improperly inflated protective cushioning provided by head coach Darren Sunkett.
The boy, Demond Hunt, Jr., had complained of headaches and concussion symptoms, however Sunkett allegedly ordered his player to "suck it up" and play. Additional allegations suggest that Sunkett ordered his players to engage in contact sports without any protective gear. In one alleged instance, Sunkett ordered Hunt to tackle another player while neither was wearing protective gear, resulting in Hunt suffering a broken collarbone while the other boy suffered a broken neck.
If the allegations are true, the coach’s behavior is disturbing; it cannot be understated that this man is a coach, trusted with the safety and education of his young players. Coaches are responsible to not only provide a safe environment for their teams, but to lead by example and behave as mature and responsible adults. The onus is on the coach to teach his/her players about being careful with one’s health and taking responsibility for one’s actions. In this case, if the allegations are true, the coach should "suck it up" and take responsibility for his apparent negligent actions that forever changed the life of a youngster in his charge; as such, he will teach his team a valuable lesson in personal responsibility.
The management and staff of Lawsuit Financial extends its condolences to the family of Demond Hunt and to Coach Sunkett. It is hoped that Demond can recover and live a productive life.
Attorney, certified civil mediator, and award-winning author of the Zachary Blake Betrayal Series. Mark Bello is also a member of the State Bar of Michigan, a sustaining member of the Michigan Association for Justice, and a member of the American Association for Justice.