Verdicts & Settlements

Nation's largest youth football league settles suit over brain disease

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The nation’s largest youth football league has settled a lawsuit that claimed that hits to the head from playing the game caused a degenerative brain disease that led a 25-year-old man to commit suicide.

The Pop Warner organization settled for an undisclosed amount, report the New York Times and the Associated Press. The $5 million wrongful-death suit had claimed that Pop Warner Football was an ultrahazardous activity.

The plaintiff, Debra Pyka, sued after her son Joseph Chernach hanged himself in 2012. Chernach had played football with the league for four years, beginning at age 11. After Chernach’s death, doctors determined that he had suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

Pop Warner has changed its rules and reduced full-contact practices to reduce the risk of head injuries. The group said in a statement that it has “led the way in making the game of youth football a safer and better experience.”

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