First Concussion-Related Lawsuit Against Pop Warner Youth Football League Settled

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(Photo: ABC News)

The Pop Warner youth football league has settled its first lawsuit related to concussions and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

Head injuries have become a hot button issue in contact sports, especially football, because there is scientific evidence supporting the fact that repeated blows to the head can contribute to the long term effects of CTE.

The mother of 25-year-old Joseph Chernach filed the suit against Pop Warner in Wisconsin in February 2015 after her son's suicide. Chernach played Pop Warner football from age 11 to 16. 

After his suicide on June 12, 2007, he was diagnosed with CTE. 

His mother, Debbie Pyka, told ABC News her once happy son had become depressed in college. The $5 million lawsuit claimed that the youth football league had contributed to her son's CTE because they failed to train coaches, use the "safest helmets," and limit the amount of contact that occurred in practices, ABC reports. The suit also claimed that the league's actions had been “deliberate, an actual disregard of the plaintiff’s right to safety, health or life....”

It is not clear when exactly or for how much the suit was settled. 

The Pop Warner organization released a statement saying, "We have established protocols and rule changes aimed at improving coaching education, limiting contact and requiring any player who suffers a potential head injury to be examined by a medical professional trained in concussions before returning to play. Combined with our coaches education through Heads Up Football, we are focused on making this game accessible and safer for those who love football."