NY Fire Department Sued for Wrongful Death in Football Case

A fire department in upstate New York has been sued following the death of a high school football player from injuries he sustained in a game. Damon James, 16, died on September 16, 2013 from injuries he sustained three days prior in a football game between his Brocton High School and Westfield High School. The suit alleges he sustained one or more concussions during the first half but was allowed to continue playing until he collapsed during the third quarter.

The suit alleges negligence on the part of the coaching staffs, school administrators, hospitals and the Portville Fire Department in failing to save James’ life. According to the suit, the fire department personnel refused to bring an ambulance onto the field “putting concerns about property damage ahead of the lives and safety of student athletes.”

WIVB Channel 4 quoted Portville FD sources as saying the field was soaked at the time and the ambulance would get stuck.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 45 years of fire service experience and 35 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014, 4th ed. 2022) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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