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Colorado jury finds helmet maker Riddell negligent in lawsuit over injury

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DENVER - A Colorado jury has awarded US$11.5 million to a man whose family sued helmet maker Riddell and his coaches over brain injuries from a high school football practice in 2008.

The jury in Las Animas County found Saturday that Riddell was negligent in failing to warn people wearing its helmets about concussion dangers. The ruling comes as the company still faces a similar lawsuit in Los Angeles, plus a complaint by thousands of former NFL players against the league and Riddell.

In Colorado, the jury assessed 27 per cent of the fault for Rhett Ridolfi's injuries, making it responsible for paying $3.1 million of the damages. Ridolfi's lawyer Frank Azar said Sunday he'll ask a judge to find Riddell responsible for paying all $11.5 million in damages.

Riddell said it plans to appeal the verdict but is pleased that jurors rejected allegations regarding helmet design defects.

"While disappointed in the jury's decision not to fully exonerate Riddell, we are pleased the jury determined that Riddell's helmet was not defective in any way," the company said in a statement. It said it believes it designs and manufactures the most protective football headgear for athletes.

Riddell also contends the court erroneously excluded testimony from its warnings expert, though Azar disputed that.

"I think this jury has said they're in very serious trouble," said Azar, who said he is representing between 10 and 20 former NFL players with complaints against Riddell.

Ridolfi's family sued Riddell and his coaches after Ridolfi suffered a concussion in a Trinidad High School football practice. He wasn't immediately taken to the hospital, and Azar said Ridolfi now has severe brain damage, plus paralysis on his left side. Three people reached confidential settlements before the verdict Saturday, but two coaches were still defendants at the trial, Azar said.

In October, a jury in Mississippi found Riddell wasn't responsible for an injury to a high school football player who had suffered a stroke after a practice.

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