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Three Forks school sued over player's concussions

BOZEMAN (AP) — A former Three Forks High School football player and his parents have filed a lawsuit against the school district claiming he suffered a life-altering brain injury after sustaining two concussions in practice over a period of six days in August 2009.

Michael Rouchleau, 18, along with Kim and Joseph Rouchleau, filed the claim in District Court in Bozeman on April 12, the Bozeman Daily Chroniclereported Tuesday.

The complaint alleges the coaches were negligent when they sent Michael Rouchleau back in to practice on Aug. 27, where he suffered a second concussion after being tackled by a linebacker during a drill. The lawsuit said Michael's doctor ordered that he not participate in contact activities for 11 days after the Aug. 21 concussion.

"Despite being knocked unconscious and receiving an obvious second concussion, the coaches did not call 911, did not contact the school nurse and did not contact Michael's parents," in violation of school policy, the lawsuit alleges. "They merely sat him on the sidelines and sent him home after practice."

His mother took him to the emergency room, where he was diagnosed with a second concussion.

The school district's attorney, David Dalthorp of Helena, said he believes it will become apparent that many of the allegations in the complaint "are not entirely accurate."

"Michael's coaches did not instruct him to participate in contact drills or otherwise go against his doctor's orders," Dalthorp said. "We will learn the truth of the matter. Meanwhile, I wish Michael the best and hope his recovery is complete."

The lawsuit alleges that when Michael returned to school, he complained that he was confused and did not understand what was going on in class, but the district did not provide him any special assistance or attention. The claim alleges he instead became the subject of ridicule and teasing, and his parents sent him to live with family in California to attend school and receive rehabilitation for his brain injury.

Michael Rouchleau tried to attend Montana State University in the fall, but that did not go well, his Bozeman attorney Michael Sand said Monday.

Michael continues to suffer from severe headaches, vision impairment, auditory abnormalities, seizures, cognitive shortfalls, memory loss, attention and educational deficits and emotional and behavioral difficulties, the lawsuit alleges.

"It's very sad," Sand said. "They're faced with a lifetime parenting challenge."

The lawsuit seeks damages for past and future mental and physical pain and suffering, medical costs, lost earnings and other damages.


Information from: Bozeman Daily Chronicle,


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