First Jury Trial Since Covid Shutdown Results in $850,000 Verdict Against Horry County School District for Gross Negligence in Failing to Prevent Football Injury
On April 15, 2021, a civil jury in Horry County awarded $850,000.00 in damages in a gross negligence case against the Horry County School District. The suit involved a high school senior who received a diagnosis of post concussive syndrome after receiving a head injury during a football game played on October 20, 2016 between the North Myrtle Beach High School B-Team football team (comprised of students from North Myrtle Beach Middle School) and the Carolina Forrest High School B-Team Football team (comprised of students from Ocean Bay Middle School). This is believed to be the first civil jury verdict in South Carolina since the Covid shutdown in the spring of 2020. The Plaintiff was represented by Evans Moore, LLC.
Evidence presented in the trial showed that the student received a head injury at some point shortly before halftime, but was never pulled from the game. As a left-tackle on both the offensive and defensive line, the student played the overwhelming majority of the game except when the special teams were called in. Playing through a potential brain injury can lead to issues, including scond impact syndrome.
Horry County does not require that the B-Team football players have a certified athletic trainer present for both teams. Each Junior Varsity and Varsity team has 2-3 certified athletic trainers walking the sidelines for each team, but the B-Teams relies on the home school to provide a single trainer for both teams. Evidence showed that the trainer present for Carolina Forrest who was supposed to cover both teams did not assess any of the players on her own team and spent zero time on the sidelines of the away team, North Myrtle Beach. The jury found that the District acted with Gross Negligence by allowing the B-Team to take the field without a certified athletic trainer present for North Myrtle Beach, and by failing to assess the student for injuries once the concussion took place.
The student was subsequently diagnosed with post-concussive syndrome, and was treated locally by Dr. Frederick Daniels, the MUSC neurology Department, and neurologist Marshall White, MD of Mt. Pleasant. The District retained experts from Shreveport, Louisiana and Augusta, Georgia to attempt to criticize the care provided by these local physicians.
Scott Evans, of Evans Moore, LLC, one of Logan’s attorneys, said:
“The last place our client wanted to be was a courtroom. He is a senior in high school, he wanted to be home in Aiken. A trial is a traumatic, time-consuming, and expensive process. He didn’t want to go to Court, and he had miniscule settlement demands, he just wanted to keep his mom from losing her home by paying the mounting costs of his ongoing treatment. I don’t even think that the District wanted to go to Court. The District’s outside counsel, its athletic director (Roger Dixon) and the head trainer for North Myrtle Beach (Keeter Hayes) showed Logan great compassion and respect throughout this process. The one person who showed zero respect through this process and who ensured that both parties were headed for a long trial was the representative of the South Carolina Insurance Reserve Fund, the District’s insurance company. Citizen’s do not realize how much power that these insurance companies who insure our state entities and municipalities hold. This representative relayed to my client and his mother that she would rather see the money spent on hiring trial experts to defend her insured than to allow that money to go toward’s Logan’s future and past medical costs. Those experts she hired turned out to be biased, flip-flopping pawns who the jury rejected. That was not money well-spent.
The upside is that any of these Districts who were wondering whether it was fine to try and skate by with one trainer on the sidelines now know – it’s not safe and you’re officially on notice.”
James B. Moore III, one of Logan’s attorneys said: “We are incredibly proud of Logan for his courage to take this case the distance, not only for himself, but for the next generation of young athletes in Horry County. Thankfully, Logan has made a great recovery and we have very high expectations for his bright future.”
Our case was also featured in the media, including these outlets.
The Sidebar Podcast
ABC Spotlight on America