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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Drew Swank’s family appeals the dismissal of concussion-related lawsuit

The family of a Valley Christian School football player who died of brain trauma in 2009 following a game injury has appealed a state judge’s decision last year to dismiss their lawsuit.

The wrongful death claim brought by the family of Drew Swank against the school, an administrator, football coaches and a family doctor alleges the defendants were negligent in allowing Swank to play in a football game the week after he suffered a concussion.

Swank was diagnosed with a concussion after visiting a doctor. After he reported his headache had stopped, he was cleared to play later that week over the phone by a clinic staff member without a follow-up examination, the suit claims.

During an away game at LaCrosse-Washtucna, the suit alleges Swank was showing signs of his head injury from the previous week, but was not taken out of the game.

After taking a hard hit, he collapsed on the sidelines and was taken to the hospital, where he died several days later. He was 17.

Valley Christian School disbanded its football program that fall.

The lawsuit, dimissed in Spokane County Superior Court, is now in front of the Washington Court of Appeals.

A state law passed in July 2009 - months before Swank’s death - is known as the Zackery Lystedt Law and requires a doctor’s authorization before a youth sports player can return to a game if a concussion is suspected.

“It’s our belief that the Lystedt act governs what happened in this particular case and it should apply,” said Mark Kamitomo, an attorney for the Swank family.

Calls to attorneys for Valley Christian School and Swank’s doctor and coach were not returned Monday.