Former football player sues school
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Former football player sues school over concussions

Former football player sues school over concussions

Thursday, April 07, 2011
By Vivian Nereim, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

A former high school football player who still struggles with symptoms from brain damage sustained during games sued the Highlands School District today in federal court, alleging that his coach, trainer and school officials did not adequately protect him from injury.

Zachary Alt, 19, of Fawn, also claims in the lawsuit that teachers and administrators in the district continued to pass him through classes after a third concussion rendered him unable to complete schoolwork, even allowing him to graduate.

In an emailed statement this morning, a spokeswoman for the school district said that the district has not yet received or reviewed the lawsuit.

“The district does not comment on litigation,” Misty Chybrzynski wrote. “When the lawsuit is presented, the district solicitor, Mr. Ira Weiss, will respond through the court system.”

At a news conference this morning, Mr. Alt’s lawyer, Robert Peirce III, said that Mr. Alt’s family did not want to halt high school football programs.

Rather, he said, they want to make sure what happened to Mr. Alt does not happen to other students.

Mr. Alt’s brain trauma stems from three concussions sustained during the fall 2007 football season, when he was 15, Mr. Peirce said. The boy’s trainer and coach did not administer proper cognitive testing and sent him back into a game after his third concussion even when his teammates expressed worries, Mr. Peirce claimed.

Mr. Peirce said that Mr. Alt, who sat through the news conference silently, his face somber, would not comment.

But his mother, Megan Alt, spoke on behalf of her family.

“It has been a nightmare, to say the least,” she said. “It has changed my whole family. It has changed my son . . . . he’s never going to be the same again.”
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