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Saturday, October 20 News

Former student athlete sues Darien after concussion injuries

DARIEN — A former Darien High School student athlete is suing the town and Board of Education, alleging the mishandling of two concussion injuries resulted in emergency treatment and further medical care.

Michele Elliman, mother of Isabel Fee, has requested $15,000 or more in damages in the lawsuit filed March 30, 2017, in state Superior Court in Stamford.

In the complaint, Fee claims she had two concussions in a two-week period while a player on Darien High’s softball team. During a game on March 30, 2015, Fee was hit in the head with a softball and sustained her first concussion. Exactly one week later, on April 6, she was cleared to play and was again hit in the head with a softball, resulting in a second concussion. The lawsuit alleges Fee did not receive proper medical treatment before returning to the field.

The school “permitted the plaintiff to return to playing softball without proper medical clearance or without gradual re-entrance to the game as dictated by its own guidelines pertaining to concussions,” the suit states.

As a result, Fee was required to seek emergency treatment and follow up with treatment with her primary care physician and specialist physician, the suit states. Fee claimed to sustain numerous injuries due to the successive concussions, including persistent headaches, neck pains, vision issues and psychological and emotional difficulties. She had to take psychological exams, radiological exams and prescription medication. According to court documents, Fee has been required to spend significant amounts of money for medical and psychological care, services and treatment.

The Darien Public Schools website says Darien High follows a seven-stage concussion protocol for student-athletes to return to the field, with activities ranging from rest and light aerobic exercise to sports drills and eventual medical clearance.

There are no set times for how long each stage takes, as each are handled on a case-by-case basis, according to Darien High Athletic Director Chris Manfredonia. However, multiple stages cannot be completed in the same day, he said.

The lawsuit also alleges there was a failure to enforce school policies set in the ImPACT Concussion Management Program. The program requires student-athletes to seek medical attention and get medical clearance from their examining health care provider before returning to athletic activity.

Board of Education Chairwoman Tara Ochman could not be reached for comment.

Michael T. Ryan, the lawyer presenting the Board of Education and the town, was also not available for comment.

A trial date is set for March.

dj.simmons@hearstmediact.com, 203-842-2568

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