MARBLE FALLS, Texas (KXAN) - Citing injuries that were not properly attended to in various football games and practices, former high school student Blake Alan Ripple has filed a lawsuit against his high school football coach, Cord Woerner, and Marble Falls Independent School District.
Ripple's case states that he has become disabled since the concussion he suffered in an October 2009 game when he was executing a game play and he got head injuries in helmet-on-helmet contact.
The lawsuit states that Ripple, 20, who is a resident of Granite Shoals, suffered more than 30 concussions or sub-concussions under the supervision of Woerner, who knew he was injured and in a fragile condition. Despite that, the lawsuit alleges that Woerner continued to put Ripple into situations in both practice and in games, which injured Ripple.
At one time, according to the lawsuit, Ripple was a National Honor Society student and Academic All-District selection. Now he is unable to live independently, due to his injures. While he was one of the highest-rated lineman in Central Texas, he was getting scholarship interest from Division I colleges, letters which the coach allegedly withheld from him.
The lawsuit also states that while Ripple was playing football and also reached the age of majority, he was neither provided a medical release nor waiver of liability by Woerner or school district personnel for his signature.
The specific football game incident cited in the lawsuit happened on Oct. 23, 2009. During the last few minutes of the game, Ripple allegedly suffered a head injury. After, he was unable to remember what happened, was unsteady on his feet, staggered and complained of nausea, dizziness and a severe headache. Though the trainer talked to Ripple after the injury, he failed to give aide and did not continue to observe Ripple.
The trainer allegedly told Ripple's parents that he would "be fine after taking a shower." Ripple's father wanted to take him to the hospital, but again, the trainer and coach showed no concern, according to the lawsuit.
A physician who examined Ripple asked to see the football helmet that the player was wearing at the time of the injury. Ripple tried to get the helmet from his coach, who refused to let him take it off campus, stating it would be a violation of University Interscholastic League policy. The helmet has since disappeared, according to the lawsuit.
Two months later, Ripple and some friends were in a car wreck wherein the vehicle rolled three times. Ripple was taken to the hospital as a precaution. They found nodules on his thyroid, then went to the Mayo Clinic for treatment.
Before practice began the next school year, the parents met with Woerner and explained Ripple's medical limitations. The coach allegedly told them if their son could not "perform at 110 percent, that he did not want" Ripple on the team. He allegedly continued to punish Ripple with excessive physical exercises and drills in order to force him to play for the team, while Ripple had hoped to work up his strength to be able to play football again.
The lawsuit contends that Ripple was forced to run so hard in September 2010 that blood started to run from his ears and nose. His parents took him to an emergency room, where they learned Ripple was severely dehydrated.
Despite receiving frequent reminders of Ripple's medical condition and diminished physical abilities, Woerner allegedly continued to push Ripple with excessive physical exercises and drills to force him to play for the team. Ripple again experienced injuries at the team's second scrimmage, according tot he lawsuit. His parents were not at the game because they had been told their son would not be playing.
Ripple became so disabled that he was put on homebound educational services -- this, at a time when he started to get letters from Division I schools around the country, interested in his football performances. Woerner allegedly withheld the letters from Ripple until he started summer training, according to the lawsuit.
In Ripple's senior year of high school, he continued to complain of headaches, stomach problems and loss of sensation on the left side of his body. He believed he would have been punished by Woerner had he not practice or play on the team. When he complained to the coaches about feeling sick, they allegedly told him to get back out on the field and play.
At one point, Ripple was taken from the field by ambulance for a "compartment syndrome Injury" and neither the trainers nor coaches accompanied him to the hospital, according to the lawsuit.
Doctors believe Ripple suffered from 30 to 40 concussions while playing football. He is unable to attend CORE Health due to constant vomiting, and has been advised to file for disability.
The lawsuit contends that the school district covered up facts about Ripple's injuries, and has refused to investigate or respond to the reports. It says the district has instead retaliated against Ripple
and his family. It is holding Woerner directly responsible for Ripple's injuries and states that the school district failed to supervise Woerner properly in this case.
Ripple and his attorneys, Martin J. Cirkiel of Round Rock and Michael Zimmerman of Waco, seek damages, punitive damages and attorney fees in the case.
Longhorns coach Mack Brown talked with reporters Thursday for the first time since reports surfaced this week that he could be stepping down.
Michael Dell spoke to thousands of customers and partners at the third Dell World conference Thursday at the Austin Convention Center.
UT President Bill Powers may finally learn whether he'll continue to run one of the nation's largest campuses.
Thousands of senior citizens in Central Texas go without holiday gifts. Now a donation drive needs the public's help to collect more and help wrap them.
The judge presiding over the trial to oust District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg ruled Wednesday that she'll stay in office.
Options for high speed Internet in Austin continue to expand. Google Fiber is coming to Austin soon, and now AT&T has announced the city will be the first for its own faster-than-ever Internet speeds.