Organization Can't Ice Bobsledder's `Sled Head' Allegations

Bobsleigh - Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Day 16

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Lawyers for USA Bobsled/Skeleton Inc. lost a round in court when a judge denied their motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought by a bobsled rider who blames the organization for not warning him and others of the dangerous potential for ``sled head'' injuries caused by repeated trauma to their heads while participating in the sport.

On Monday, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Elihu Berle ruled that plaintiff William Person's proposed Los Angeles Superior Court class-action lawsuit, which alleges negligence and fraudulent concealment, can move forward for now.

``Sled head'' refers to a concussion or subconcussive injury caused by tobogganing, including luging, skeleton, bobsledding and tubing that typically leaves the victim woozy or muddle-headed.

Person seeks court-supervised medical monitoring to be funded by USABS on behalf of himself and all proposed class members for the identification and treatment of all potential head injuries that USABS knew or should have known about for decades, yet allegedly failed to warn them about, including neurodegenerative and behavioral disorders and diseases.

``Mr. Person is at increased risk of latent brain injuries caused by repeated traumatic head impacts in his bobsled career and therefore is in need of medical monitoring,'' the suit states.

But in their court papers, the USABS attorneys denied any link between Person's injuries and the sport, saying there is ``not generally any accepted medical and scientific evidence'' demonstrating that engaging in bobsledding causes any alleged ``sled head,'' brain injury or chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a progressive brain condition commonly known as CTE that is thought to be caused by repeated blows to the head. The attorneys also argued that there is ``no duty to advise of the integral risks in dangerous sports,'' including bobsledding.

``Contrary to (Person's) contention that USABS is the gatekeeper of the sport of Bobsledding, the public can access parks and facilities across the United States and Canada to participate and experience bobsledding and the sledding sports,'' the defense lawyers stated in their court papers.

Bobsledding is an ``inherently dangerous sport, activity and its participants assume the risk of any known or unknown damages and harm from engaging in this inherently dangerous sport and activity,'' the court papers state.

Attorneys further argued that there is no ``viable class'' for Person to represent, that medical monitoring is a form of damages and not a claim and that his causes of action were filed too late.

The proposed class consists of all retired or former bobsled and skeleton athletes who raced for, trained under and/or competed with USABS from 1983 to September 2021 who reside in California.

Person was recruited by USABS, participated in bobsled sports and represented the United States in the America's Cup, World Cup, Olympic Trials and World Championships from 1999 through 2007, the suit states. USABS is also known as the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation.

USABS did not warn Person or any of the proposed class members about the risks of head impacts, shaking, rattling, G-force exposure, subconcussive blows and concussions while participating in bobsled sports, the suit alleges.

The organization also failed to provide any medical evaluations related to head impacts, concussions or Person's suitability to continue participating in bobsled sports in the years he spent on sled runs despite symptoms of ``sled head,'' the suit states.

The judge scheduled a status conference for July 28.

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