A bobsled rider is suing USA Bobsled/Skeleton Inc., blaming the organization for not warning him and others of the dangerous potential for “sled head” injuries caused by repeated trauma to their heads while participating in the sport.
William Person’s proposed Los Angeles Superior Court class-action lawsuit was filed Tuesday against the USA Bobsled and Skeleton Federation. It seeks medical monitoring and alleges negligence and fraud.
“Mr. Person is at increased risk of latent brain injuries caused by repeated traumatic head impacts in his bobsled career and therefore is in need of medical monitoring,” the suit states.
USABS spokeswoman Amanda Bird said that the organization has not yet received the lawsuit, but “we’re looking into it.”
Although USABS knew or should have known for decades about risks of brain injury and the effects of subjecting its sled athletes to repeated traumatic head impact, the group “failed to support or disseminate any information to its sled athletes, including plaintiff, regarding such risks of brain injury associated with participation in sled sports,” the suit states.
The proposed class consists of all retired or former bobsled and skeleton athletes who raced for, trained under and/or competed with USABS from 1983 to September 2021 who reside in California.
Person was recruited by USABS, participated in bobsled sports and represented the United States in the America’s Cup, World Cup, Olympic Trials and World Championships from 1999 through 2007, the suit states. USABS is also known as the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation.
USABS did not warn Person or any of the proposed class members about the risks of head impacts, shaking, rattling, G-force exposure, sub-concussive blows and concussions while participating in bobsled sports, the suit alleges.
USABS also failed to provide any medical evaluations related to head impacts, concussions or Person’s suitability to continue participating in bobsled sports in the years he spent on sled runs despite symptoms of “sled head,” the suit states.
“Sled head” refers to a concussion or subconcussive injury caused by tobogganing, including luging, skeleton, bobsledding, and tubing that typically leaves the victim woozy or muddle-headed.
The suit seeks court-supervised medical monitoring to be funded by USABS on behalf of Person and all proposed class members for the identification and treatment of all potential head injuries that USABS knew or should have known about for decades, yet allegedly failed to warn them about, including neurodegenerative and behavioral disorders and diseases.