Hillsborough school district settles with injured Wharton football player

File photo: Sean McNamee

UPDATE: Hillsborough County Schools agreed on a $2 million settlement for injured player Sean McNamee and his family. The board agreed to immediately pay $300,000 to McNamee and his parents. The board also agreed to support a “claim bill” in the Florida Legislature for the additional money. That bill is needed because state law caps such lawsuits at $300,000.

“Such a limited recovery would have provided virtually nothing to help Sean and his family deal with his permanent injuries over the course of his lifetime,” a representative for McNamee said.

In addition to the financial settlement, the district agreed to provide better training to staff members in order to prevent and treat head injuries.

“A new protocol aimed at protecting public school student-athletes from the effects of head injuries that occur during school athletic activities will be immediately put into place,” the representative for McNamee said. “Named ‘The McNamee Protocol’ in his honor, the protocol will implement uniform procedures to be followed when a head injury is suspected. It will be reviewed and updated as necessary on an annual basis.”

PREVIOUS STORY: HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, FL (WFLA) – The attorney representing Wharton High School football player Sean McNamee and his family has taken the first steps to sue the Hillsborough County School District.

Hillsborough County Schools said they had no comment Monday.

McNamee was injured during a football practice Fall 2013 after hitting his head on equipment on the football field. He was not wearing a helmet when warming up in drills. Family attorney Steve Yerrid said McNamee was in a coma for nine days after the incident. At the time, doctors told the family that the 16-year-old might not survive. Yerrid says McNamee is still recovering.

File Photo: Sean McNamee thanks the staff at the hospital for saving his life.
File Photo: Sean McNamee thanks the staff at the hospital for saving his life.

“He’s got the motor skills recovered enough and the mental equity to be able to drive. So that is a profound set for this young man. There is a lon-term problem he’s going to have to accept,” said Yerrid.

In his letter to the Hillsborough County School District, Yerrid detailed the events of the day McNamee was injured. Yerrid said in the letter, “Student athletes deserve better than the treatment afforded to this outstanding young man. Families who entrust their children and young adults to our schools need to be assured appropriate procedures are in place to deal with catastrophic injuries sustained during school-sanctioned activities. In addition to restitution, please be advised we will be seeking reform and the establishment and adherence to mandated protocol in order to protect other student athletes and their families from experiencing this type of unnecessary tragedy.”

State law allows a maximum of $300,000 in damages per incident if the school district is found liable in this case.

“The parents send their kids to high schools, they engage in althletics and then they are told after these types of injuries oh by the way soverign immunity applies, you can only collect $300,000 dollars,” said Yerrid. Yerrid also claims the school system doesn’t have insurance required by the Florida High School Athletic Association.

“We want our school system to comply with the governing body has required them to do: not ignore it, not tell us flippantly they have the power not to do what they’re supposed to do,” saod Yerrid.


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