Pittsburgh Legal Back Talk

Legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus.

1410 Posts and Counting

FAMILY LAW: Parental responsibility and the risk of football concussions.

Posted By Cliff Tuttle | March 9, 2018

No. 1,435

The New York Times ran an article recently focusing on a custody dispute involving a divorced Upper St. Clair couple with a family law issue that is becoming increasingly common.

Their son played high school football and had experienced concussion-like symptoms, but had eventually been cleared by a doctor to play. His father, the non-custodial parent, filed suit to prevent his son’s participation.  The mother says that the boy knows the risks and is able to make his own decision.  As might be anticipated, the boy wants to play and does not wish to have contact with his father.

Image: You Tube

According to domestic lawyer Joe Cordell, quoted in the Times article, about one-third of the lawyers at Cordell & Cordell, practicing in 40 states,  have encountered disputes regarding concussion risks in scholastic football.  He says that they are particularly prevalent in “football states”, which include Pennsylvania.

In the Upper St. Clair case profiled in the Times,the father says that since  the boy had already experienced concussion symptoms, which in the view of the father increases the risk of CTE developing, it is irresponsible for a parent to expose his child to such a risk.  However, the judge has not been willing to sign an order prohibiting the son from playing. At least not yet.

This problem is not going away and it is not too hard to imagine the day when the law will begin siding with the parent who wants to withhold permission for this activity.  Improving helmet technology, changes in the rules, the occurrence of catastrophic injuries, evolving social values and other factors, some yet unforeseen, will contribute to the ultimate outcome.



CLIFF TUTTLE has been a Pennsylvania lawyer for over 45 years and (inter alia) is a real estate litigator and legal writer. The posts in this blog are intended to provide general information about legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus. However, this information does not constitute legal advice and there is no lawyer-client relationship created when you read this blog. You are encouraged to leave comments but be aware that posted comments can be read by others. If you wish to contact me in privacy, please use the Contact Form located immediately below this message. I will reply promptly and in strict confidence.

  • Recent Posts

  • Posts You Might Like

  • Subscribe to our feed