APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Peoria County; the Hon.
CALVIN R. STONE, Judge, presiding.
JUSTICE STOUDER DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:
Rehearing denied July 23, 1982.
This suit was brought by plaintiff, William Galindo, Jr., against defendant, Riddell, Inc., in order to recover damages for personal injuries sustained by the plaintiff during a football game while wearing a football helmet manufactured by the defendant. The jury returned a verdict for the defendant, and the Peoria County Circuit Court entered judgment accordingly.
On October 11, 1974, the plaintiff was injured while attempting to make a tackle in a varsity high school football game in Chillicothe, Illinois. The plaintiff's injury consisted of a fracture dislocation of his cervical vertebrae at the level of the fifth and sixth cervical vertebrae. As a result of this injury, the plaintiff was paralyzed from the neck down and was rendered a quadriplegic.
At the time of his injury, the plaintiff was wearing a Riddell suspension helmet, referred to as a TK2 model helmet. The helmet consisted of a plastic shell on the outside and a grey rubber pad and a suspension system made of cloth straps on the inside. It was held on the plaintiff's head by a chin strap which fastened to each side of the helmet. The helmet had a face mask attached to it of the type commonly used by players who wear eye glasses.
The plaintiff initially filed suit against Riddell, Inc., the manufacturer of the helmet, Illinois Valley Central Unit School District 321 and Bailey & Himes, Inc., the retail seller of the helmet. Later, Century Sports, Inc., a football helmet reconditioning company, and Island Plastics, Inc., a manufacturer of football helmet shells, were added as party defendants. Illinois Valley Central Unit School District 321 was dismissed from the suit by the plaintiff before the case went to trial and Century Sports, Inc., Island Plastics, Inc., and Bailey & Himes, Inc., were dismissed from the suit by the plaintiff during the course of the trial.
The plaintiff's complaint against Riddell consisted of the following five counts: Count II, a strict product liability count; count III, a negligence count; count V, a wilful and wanton negligence count; count VII, a breach of warranty count; and count XVII, a strict product liability count seeking punitive damages based upon the defendant's alleged knowledge of the unreasonably dangerous condition of its helmet. Prior to trial, the plaintiff dismissed the two negligence counts against the defendant.
Counts II and XVII alleged that the helmet worn by the plaintiff which was manufactured by Riddell, Inc., was unreasonably dangerous for one or more of the following reasons:
1. The suspension system of the helmet was not adequate to attenuate the impact to the wearer;
2. The padding of the helmet was not adequate to attenuate the impact to the wearer;
3. The face guard of the helmet acted as a lever, so as to cause the head and neck of the wearer to be snapped back when the face guard came in contact with an external force;
4. The face guard of the helmet had no shock absorption capacity and transmitted the force of a blow to the head and neck of the wearer;
5. The rear edge of the helmet was too low on the neck of the wearer;
6. The rear edge of the helmet was not padded; and
7. There was no adequate warning given by the defendant to the users of the product, including the plaintiff, of its potentially dangerous nature.
In addition, count XVII alleged that the defendant knew the helmet was unreasonably dangerous prior to the ...