A federal judge in Ohio on Monday concluded that Riddell Inc. had a duty to warn former Minnesota Vikings offensive lineman Korey Stringer that its helmets and shoulder pads could contribute to heat stroke when used in hot conditions. Stringer died nearly eight years ago from complications of heatstroke.
As a result, U.S. District Court judge John D. Holschuh ordered a Nov. 2 jury trial to determine whether Riddell's failure to warn Stringer comprises legal culpability for his death.
Regardless of that eventual outcome, Stringer family spokesman James Gould described Monday's ruling “landmark” to espn.com because it makes the connection between the equipment and heat stroke. Gould said the best way to uphold Stringer's legacy is to “make sure what happened to Korey doesn't happen to any other football player — from the National Football League all the way down to kids in Pop Warner.”
“This decision should go a long way to ensure it doesn't,” Gould added.
Stringer collapsed after a training camp practice on July 31, 2001 and died the next day in Mankato, Minn.
His wife, Kelci, settled legal claims in 2003 against the Minnesota doctor who treated him. She also settled a lawsuit earlier this year against the NFL, which agreed to support the creation of a heat illness prevention program for athletes of all ages.