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Youth football league settles case with family of deceased player

In 2012, 25-year-old Joseph Chernach committed suicide. He had been a football player in high school and also for Pop Warner, a youth football league. Chernach's  family brought a lawsuit against Pop Warner after Chernach was found posthumously to have had a brain disease, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which has been linked to football or other sports where participants regularly experience blows to the head.

This case is notable because Pop Warner recently settled for an unknown amount (the family had sued Pop Warner and its insurer for $5 million). According to an article in The New York Times, the settlement may set the precedent for other similar lawsuits in football and other sports to go forward.

Some are surprised that Pop Warner decided to settle the Wisconsin case. Chernach had played other sports, and it may have been difficult for lawyers to prove that his injury was definitively linked to football. Still, the case may provide hope for former athletes and their families who may have seen their lives destroyed by the degenerative brain disease. 

Symptoms of CTE can include memory loss, confusion, aggression, depression and other behaviors that can make it difficult for a person to function, or maintain normal relationships or employment. Often the signs of CTE don't start until years after the last "hit" to the head. 

If you think you or someone you love may be suffering from sports-related CTE, make an appointment to speak with a personal injury lawyer. While some schools and leagues may have provisions in place to protect themselves from such lawsuits, the outcome of the Chernach case shows that settlement is, in fact, possible. 

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