A major hockey gear manufacturer and a national safety standards agency are being sued by a Victoria family whose son suffered a severe brain injury during a midget hockey game.
Sucha and Cindy More allege the Bauer Nike helmet their son Darren, then 17, was wearing should have protected him against his injury and are seeking $10 million in damages to help care for him.
'He will have to be supervised until the day he dies.' — Lawyer James Macaulay
Darren was hip-checked and flew into the boards during a game in nearby Esquimalt in 2004. He struck the back of his head and fell into a six-week coma.
The More family lawyer, James Macaulay, says that six years later Darren still suffers from physical and emotional disabilities and needs 24-hour supervision.
"He has emotional problems, he has physical problems.… He will have to be supervised until the day he dies," Macaulay said.
Safety standards too low
"The helmet was intended to protect against impacts of the kind Darren More suffered. It didn't," Macaulay said. "It failed, and one of the reasons is that it was never tested to a standard that was rigorous enough to protect people like More from that kind of serious head injury."
The Canadian Standards Association has also been named in the lawsuit because the standards administered by the CSA were too low, Macaulay said.
"If you have a low standard, helmets have a lesser capacity to protect against serious head injuries," Macaulay said.
Bauer knew about the lax CSA testing, Macaulay alleges, and is therefore complicit.
"They were very much a part of the committee that decides standards," he said.
Expert testimony allowed
Earlier this week, Bauer Nike Hockey Inc. and the CSA lost their bid to have the expert testimony of one of the More family's witnesses thrown out.
At a preliminary hearing in Victoria, biomechanics expert Dr. Richard Stalnaker testified the CSA standard used on Darren's helmet was too low to offset the risk of severe head injuries on the ice.
Bauer and the CSA called Stalnaker's findings biased, misleading and flawed and asked the judge to dismiss the expert, but in a decision issued on Wednesday, the judge dismissed their claims instead.
The case returns to court on May 10 when Bauer Nike and the CSA are expected to present their opening arguments.
The CSA is a not-for-profit membership-based association serving business, industry, government and consumers in Canada, according to its website.
The province of British Columbia, the B.C. Ambulance Service and the Emergency and Health Services Commission are also named in the lawsuit.