Education

Family of high school football player who died after head injury sues school system

Isaiah Langston sits among teammates during Rolesville High School’s home opener against Panther Creek High on September 5, 2014. Langston, a junior linebacker for the Rams, died after collapsing on the field and being rushed to the hospital Friday, Sept. 26, 2014.
Isaiah Langston sits among teammates during Rolesville High School’s home opener against Panther Creek High on September 5, 2014. Langston, a junior linebacker for the Rams, died after collapsing on the field and being rushed to the hospital Friday, Sept. 26, 2014. 2014 News & Observer file photo

The family of a Rolesville High School football player who died after sustaining a head injury in practice is suing the Wake County school system and members of the school’s athletic staff.

Isaiah Langston, 17, died Sept. 29, 2014, from a stroke that a state medical examiner’s report said was caused by a head injury suffered five days before in football practice. In the lawsuit filed in Wake County Superior Court, Langston’s family accuses the school of not following the state’s concussion protocol and of not acting after the teen complained of headaches prior to his collapse before a football game two days later.

“The aforesaid injuries, death and damages sustained by Isaiah Langston were directly and proximately caused by the careless, negligent, grossly negligent, reckless, and willful and/or wantonly actions of the Defendants,” the family says in the lawsuit filed in August.

Under state law, student-athletes in North Carolina who display symptoms of a concussion must be cleared by a medical doctor or licensed athletic trainer before returning to practice.

In its response to the lawsuit, school officials acknowledge Langston wasn’t cleared to play by any doctor and didn’t participate in the concussion protocol. But school attorneys deny that school employees knew that Langston had suffered a concussion or that he had complained of headaches prior to his collapse.

“Isaiah Langston was negligent in one or more respects and failed to exercise the proper care which prudent persons under the same or similar circumstances would have exercised,” the district says in its legal response.

Langston was hit in the back of the head during football practice Sept. 24, 2014, and had a headache for two days, according to the report by medical examiner Dr. Andrew Rand.

The teen was “held out” of practice during those two days, according to Rand.

The medical examiner’s report did not state that Langston had a concussion, but headaches are a symptom of a concussion.

Langston, a lineman for the team, collapsed during pregame warm-ups Sept. 26, 2014, and was taken to the hospital. He died three days later.

In addition to suing the school system, the lawsuit names as defendants Tommy Moore, Rolesville’s athletic director; Jermaine Evans, who was head football coach at the time; Anthony McKoy, an assistant football coach; and Brad Farrell, who was the school’s head athletic trainer at the time.

The family has requested a jury trial that could begin as soon as Nov. 13.

T. Keung Hui: 919-829-4534, @nckhui

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