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Cerney v. Cedar Bluffs Junior/Senior Public School

Nebraska Supreme Court
679 N.W. 2d 198 (2004)


Cerney (plaintiff) was a student and member of the football team at Cedar Bluffs Junior/Senior Public School (the School) (defendant). Cerney hit his head on the ground while trying to make a tackle at a Friday night football game. Cerney took himself out of the game a few plays later. Cerney’s football coach testified that Cerney complained of being dizzy and unable to catch his breath. Cerney testified that he told the coach he was also disoriented and extremely weak. The coach talked to Cerney for five to six minutes and observed that Cerny did not have a vacant stare: did not appear to be disoriented or confused; responded normally to conversation; and did not complain of nausea, headache, or blurred vision. The coach talked to Cerney again, about 15 minutes later, when Cerney requested to reenter the game. At that time, the coach testified that Cerney appeared to be completely normal; Cerney did not exhibit confusion, disorientation, or abnormal speech. Cerney also did not complain of a headache. Cerney was allowed to go back into the football game and participated in football practice the following Tuesday. Although Cerney testified that he experienced a continuous headache from Friday night until the practice, Cerney testified that he did not recall if he told the coach about the headache before practice. During the practice, Cerney suffered a closed-head injury. Cerney’s primary-care physician and a neurologist that treated Cerney testified that Cerney suffered a concussion during the Friday night game, and the injury at practice resulted in second concussion syndrome. The physicians testified that Cerney’s injuries caused a traumatic brain injury. Cerney sued the School, alleging that the School’s negligence caused his injuries. The trial court determined that the School was not negligent. Cerney appealed the decision.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Miller-Lerman, J.)

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