Brent Cerny’s brain injury might not be as visible as a broken arm, but it makes his life a daily struggle, his brother told the Omaha World Herald. The Herald reported: “Brent, now 26, last week lost a Nebraska Supreme Court appeal of a lawsuit in which he sought $2 million in damages from the Cedar Bluffs Public Schools over his 1995 football injury.”
The Herald reports:
Brent Cerny first fell and hit his head while attempting a tackle during the Sept. 15, 1995, game against Beemer. He suffered his debilitating injury during practice four days later, when he butted helmets with another player during a “machine gun” contact tackling drill.
Doctors said he suffered a concussion during the football game. During the practice drill, they said, he suffered a second-trauma injury while still experiencing symptoms from the first concussion. Experts say a second blow to the head to a person already suffering a concussion is potentially catastrophic or fatal.
Cerny’s case and another like it inspired training programs for Nebraska coaches to better recognize and respond to possible head injuries.
It was reported the suit was dismissed because of a :
…[A] lower court ruling that Cerny’s coaches, Mitchell Egger and Robert Bowman, exercised the standard of care expected of school personnel in 1995 when they allowed Cerny to return to play.
The coaches testified that Cerny did not show symptoms of a concussion during the game and that he did not tell them he had a nagging headache the weekend after the game.
As is common with brain injuries, the consequences are life altering. The Herald reported:
Brian Cerny, 24, said his brother, once an outgoing teenager, now is anxious around people he doesn’t know.
Brent lives on his own with two supportive roommates. Brian, a student who also works full time as a security adviser, said he and his wife have made it their responsibility to keep watch on Brent.
“It’s a struggle,” he said. “We’re all worried about him all the time.”…
Brian Cerny said his brother changed noticeably after his head injury. Before, he said, he was a lot like Zack Morris, the outgoing ringleader on the old sitcom “Saved by the Bell.” He was a good athlete, a starter in several sports.
Today, bouts of depression and anxiety keep Brent from holding a job long-term – and sometimes even from leaving his bedroom for weeks at a time, Brian Cerny said.
“I’m not going to say my brother hasn’t laughed since 1994 – but he hasn’t laughed the way he should in 10 years,” Brian Cerny said.
Brent Cerny had been signed up for the Navy upon his high school graduation. Those career plans were torpedoed by his injury.
Without stable employment, Brent doesn’t have health insurance, Brian Cerny said. A money judgment would have helped Brent pay for medical care and pay his rent during times when he can’t work.
Even though the case was lost Brain’s family feels they accomplished something in bringing suit:
“Even though this trial did not turn out the way most reasonably minded people would think it would have, it definitely raised awareness about the importance of the coaching staff’s training and concern for the well-being of their players,” said Brent’s brother, Brian Cerny of Lincoln. “Hopefully, this already has and will continue to prevent this from happening to other players.”
Finally the Herald reported even though the court ruled against them, the Cerny family is glad the lawsuit is over, Brian Cerny said. “It’s been nine years. It wasn’t easy for our family at all,” he said. “It was torture for my brother. I’m glad it’s over. He’s glad it’s over. He just hopes it doesn’t happen to anybody else.”
Note: The lawyers of Stark and Stark did not represent any of the parties to this case but are reporting on the matter as part of the firm’s efforts to be a source of information to brain injured individuals.