Riddell Concussion Reduction Litigation: It’s No Wonder Riddell Doesn’t Want The Public To See Its Documents Concerning the Revolution Helmet and its Claims of Concussion Reduction

Riddell has been sued by several youth football leagues, including one in West Virginia. See Midwestern Midget Football Club Inc. v. Riddell Inc., Case No. 2:15-cv-00244 (S.D. W. Va.). Plaintiff’s Second Amended Complaint alleges that Riddell’s advertisements and public statements linking the 31% concussion reduction claim to its Revolution youth helmets specifically (or more broadly as part of the Revolution “family of helmets”) were misleading because the UPMC study on which Riddell relied did not include youth helmets. (ECF No. 45, ¶¶ 9-10, 31). There is also a similar case pending in New Jersey. See In re Riddell Concussion Reduction Litigation, 13-cv-7585 (D.N.J.).

Throughout the pendency of these matters, Riddell has made it clear that it is not eager to produce documents. In fact, the plaintiff in West Virginia was required to file a motion to compel discovery in order to force Riddell to finally voluntarily produce some documents. And with documents like this “The Riddell® Revolution UPMC Study Fact Sheet” floating around it’s no wonder Riddell is willing to go to such lengths to keep its documents from public scrutiny. In this revised UPMC Study Fact Sheet, Riddell apparently initially touted the UPMC Study as support for the following statements:

  • “The study found that the Riddell Revolution provided significantly better protection against concussions for athletes who wore the Revolution.”
  • “This revolutionary technology, patented by Riddell, now has proven results against concussions.”

In our view, neither statement is supportable in light of the actual findings and study they rely on. A leading concussion, Dr. Robert Cantu stated that the study contained a “serious, if not fatal methodological flaw.” Riddell has made the claim linking youth football helmets directly to the UPMC study in USA Football’s magazine:

Riddell pic

(Click here to enlarge)

Sitting under pictures of four youth football helmets, Riddell stated directly that:

“RESEARCH SHOWS A 31% REDUCTION IN THE RISK OF CONCUSSION IN PLAYERS WEARING RIDDELL REVOLUTION HELMETS WHEN COMPARED TO TRADITIONALLLY DESIGNED HELMETS.”

Riddell made similar claims for the Riddell Revolution family of products in press releases where they state, without qualification, that the UPMC study “found that athletes who wore the Riddell Revolution helmet were 31 percent less likely to suffer a concussion compared to athletes who wore traditional football helmets.”

This is in line with what a federal judge found in litigation in Wisconsin:

Riddell sent out one rush mailer letter stating that “[g]roundbreaking research shows that athletes who wear Riddell Revolution Youth helmets were 31% less likely to suffer a concussion than athletes who wore traditional football helmets” and citing the article. Riddell’s Director of Marketing, Allison Chonko, later acknowledged that she “found a mistake in the rush mailer letters. Just change it so we don’t have false info in our files. I know it’s too late to do anything …” She modified the rush mailer to state, “Ground-breaking research shows that athletes who wear Riddell Revolution Youth helmets were 31% less likely to suffer a concussion than athletes who wore traditional football helmets.

Riddell, Inc. v. Schutt Sports, Inc., 724 F.Supp.2d 963 (W.D. Wisc. 2010) (emphasis added).

Bailey Glasser LLP is working diligently to bring these types of mischaracterizations concerning concussions and concussion reduction to the public’s attention so students, parents, and administrators are able to make fully-informed decisions. We feel this is especially critical now with the daily revelations about concussions, CTE, and what’s at stake for youth athletes.

Contact: Michael L. Murphy

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