Legal complaint alleges Cache County high school coach told player to ‘man up,’ not seek treatment for head injury

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MILLVILLE, Utah, Oct. 15, 2019 (Gephardt Daily) — Attorneys for Cache County resident Konnor Finn have filed a legal complaint claiming that in 2017, after Finn says he alerted his Ridgeline High School football coach that he had suffered a possible head injury, he was told to “man up” and keep playing — an action that allegedly increased the severity of the teen’s injury.

A complaint filed Friday in Judicial District Court of Cache County says that Finn, a football player for Ridgeline High School, was injured on Oct. 11, 2017.

On Oct. 25 of that year, Finn was diagnosed with traumatic brain injury or concussion and post-concussive syndrome, the legal complaint says. The statement says Finn subsequently underwent further evaluation and treatment from Primary Children’s Hospital and the University of Utah Hospital.

“As a result of the hit and especially from further impacts following the hit, Konnor has experienced pain and/or seizures so severe as to render him unconscious and necessitate several emergency calls resulting in ambulance transport to hospitals and hospital stays,” the complaint says.

“… Konnor has experienced pain, confusion, blackouts, other concussion symptoms and need for significant medical treatment and pain management since the concussion occurred on or about Oct. 11, 2017.”

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The complaint seeks a jury trial and names as defendants:

  • Cache County School District
  • Cache County School District Board of Education
  • Utah High School Activities Association

The complaint seeks an undisclosed amount of financial damages, specified as in excess of $300,000.

“As a result of the concussion from the hit and additional blows sustained after Coach Stuart Howell instructed him to keep playing, and other coaches expected him to keep playing, Konnor had to miss several months of school,” the complaint says.

“Konnor was finally medically cleared to participate in school baseball in 2018. Konnor participated in baseball on a limited basis in the spring of 2018.”

The initial injury came from helmet to helmet contact during a practice session, the complaint says, adding that continued participation, urged by the coach, likely worsened Finn’s medical issues.

“Following the hit, Konnor reported to his position coach, defensive line coach Stuart ‘Senior’ Howell, that his head hurt and that he thought he had a concussion and that he had concussion symptoms from the hit. Coach Stuart Howell told Konnor to ‘man up,’ to ‘quit being a pussy,’ and ‘get back out there’ and keep playing.”

The school district has not yet issued a public response to the complaint.

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