MIAMISBURG, OH (WDTN) – A Miami Valley father is making history with a landmark lawsuit against one of the nation’s largest football helmet manufacturers following his son’s death.
Darren Hamblin is the first ever to take a football helmet maker to court over the CTE-related death of a youth football player. The suit comes after doctors determined CTE contributed to the death of Hamblin’s son, 22-year-old Cody.
Now, he’s taking nearly a dozen companies to court who he believes played a role in his son’s death.
“He was a loving, caring person,” Hamblin said. “He enjoyed his friendships. He loved being outside. He was just a great person.”
22-year-old Cody Hamblin’s life was cut short Memorial Day weekend 2016 when he was fishing on a boat with his grandpa on Lake Lorelei in Brown County. That’s when he suddenly had a seizure, fell overboard and drowned.
“Something is wrong,” Hamblin said. “This ain’t right. He’s never had a seizure in his life.”
Weeks after his death, doctors found CTE or chronic traumatic encephalopathy in Cody’s brain, which can cause seizures, but cannot be detected in people still living.
Cody–who was a star on the football field–suffered repeated concussions according to his father, which doctors believed led to the CTE.
Hamblin–once filled with joy watching his son from the sidelines– is now overwhelmed with guilt.
“I’m tried,” Hamblin said. “I’m convicted and I’m sentenced every day I get up. Sometimes multiple times in the day because I have that much guilt.”
It’s something he says no parent should have to feel, which is why he filed a 30-page lawsuit alleging negligence, fraud and misrepresentation by multiple companies, including Riddell, one the largest manufactures of youth football helmets.
“The helmet manufacturers need to take responsibility,” Hamblin said. “For a product that’s not made for kids.”
Hamblin’s love for football hasn’t changed, except when it comes to kids playing tackle football whose brains, he says, are still developing.
“They need to either make one that is for kids that can protect kids,” Hamblin said. “Or they need to just flat out say this is not intended for helmet contact.”
2 NEWS reached out to Riddell and the other companies mentioned in the lawsuit for comment on this story, but have not yet heard back.
Hamblin says he hopes to go to trial.