A Horry County jury found Friday that Horry County Schools was grossly negligent by not caring for a middle-school student who suffered a concussion during a football game in 2016.
Logan Wood was playing for Myrtle Beach Middle School at the time and had clear signs of brain injury but was not pulled from the game, according to his lawyers. Wood is now a high school senior and has suffered from post-concussion syndrome.
The jury awarded $850,000 to Wood and his mother after finding the school district was at fault. Wood’s attorney said the school district plans to appeal the verdict, which could delay the family getting their money, some of which he said will be used for medical expenses.
“The district had the opportunity to resolve this case for far less than the jury awarded,” said Scott Evan, Wood’s lawyer, adding that the district’s insurance company “showed zero respect through this process and ensured that both parties were headed for a long trial.”
Horry County Schools spokesperson Lisa Bourcier said, “The district is disappointed in the outcome of this matter.” She did not confirm whether the school district plans to appeal the decision.
Wood, then a student at North Myrtle Beach Middle School, was hit by multiple players during a 2016 football game, according to the suit filed Oct. 11, 2017, by his mother, Sarah Wood.
The lawsuit says Wood “voiced to his teammates and to coaching staff that he was having difficulty with his balance/equilibrium following this hit,” as well as exhibiting “outward signs of confusion, loss of balance, and visual impairment.”
Despite “open and obvious signs of head trauma,” Wood was put back in the game, where he received more hits “thereby seriously exacerbating his head trauma,” the suit says.
He could be seen “staggering down the sidelines during the third quarter and attempting to continue plays after the whistle, but was at no point removed from the game,” the suit says.
That day after the game ended, the suit says, he was “diagnosed with a serious brain injury.”
As a result of the injury, Wood could not attend classes due to short-term and long-term memory loss, according to the suit.
The lawsuit says the district was reckless and grossly negligent in failing to enforce school policies and procedures regarding concussion and head trauma protocols, failing to recognize that Wood had a head injury, failing to remove him from the game and failing to give him treatment.
According to the school district’s Procedures for Management of Sports-Related Concussion, “any athlete who has symptoms of a concussion and who is not stable … is to be transported immediately to the nearest emergency department via ambulance.”
The procedure manual lists decreasing level of consciousness, unusual drowsiness, difficulty paying attention, and mental status changes as symptoms of a concussion.
According the manual, if any athlete with a suspected concussion is not sent for immediate medical attention, they must be continuously observed until evaluated by a health care professional.