Former Highlands HS Athlete Sues School District

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The family of a former high school football player has filed a federal lawsuit over what it sees as the lasting impact of concussions.

Family members say school staff should have known something was wrong and they blame the Highlands School District for dropping the ball.

Megan Alt, Zack’s mother, and Robert Peirce, his lawyer, say he suffered concussions on the football field three times during his sophomore year in 2007. He had a ringing in the ears, but wasn’t sure what happened the first two times.

But the third one during a playoff game against Knoch High School resulted in a hit that left him disoriented and unable to remember what happened.

“Another teammate went to the trainer and told the trainer that, ‘Zack isn’t right. He’s walking around like he’s drunk.’ Neither the coach or the trainer kept him out of the game,” Peirce said.

His mother took him to the hospital where he was diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury.

They also allege the district just gave him good grades to allow him to pass and that even with a diploma, he has a 10th grade education.

The claim about education is one of the reasons the suit was filed in federal court.

The Highlands School District issued a statement offering no comment until their solicitor reviews the suit and that he would answer the allegations in court.

Highlands School District
MedlinePlus: Concussions

  • Tony Stel

    Very few doctors understand Brain Injury. It’s a whole different world. The best source of information is from other survivors. Please join us in a Brain Injury support meeting for survivors and families/friends at HealthSouth Harmarville, Guys Run Road, Indianna Township. April 12th, Tuesday evening at 7 PM. We have an informal and friendly discussion about all things related to the huge life changes after TBI. Here is a free download that explains symptoms:

  • Lenny

    Zack should have been given the proper rehab with Neuro-Psychs, Psychologists and Speech and Language professionals.
    I could be wrong, but I do not think that the football insurance wanted to pay for any of that. Zack showed all of the typical sysmtoms of a TBI after those concussions.

    • rwell

      My son got a concussion in gym class playing flag football and was spitting out blood from a chipped tooth. The gym teacher did not send him to the nurses office and that same day he went to football practice. I was never called by the school that he was injured in gym class. Now, he has traumatic brain injury and 1/1/2 year on homebound. 2 Neurologist, eye and balance therapy. dental work. The public school he went to said I don’t have prof. The problem is the principals, teachers and trainers not following the concussion instruction and the impact test are being done wrong. My son took the impact test and the whole football team was in the room. The academic accommodations for the teachers to follow one teacher did not follow the Drs. accommodation so the drs. put him on homebound and the Superintendent new what was going on with my son and did not help.

  • Joseph Puskar

    come on….u play football..your going to get hit…..doesnt the statue of limitations come into play?

    • Annoyed

      He was a child. If it was your child I’m sure you would have a lot more to say in his defense. The NFL doesn’t tolerate hits of that nature neither should the WPIAL. The coach put him back in the game after a major concussion…there is nothing acceptible about that situation. And there’s no excuse to pass someone and have them graduate with a 10th grade education…playing football or not. Doesn’t a student deserve to have an adequate education???

      • Loriilee Thompson

        Certainly, but I’m betting that these same parents are the type who would have screamed loudly if their son had been disqualified from playing football because of low grades. They can’t have it both ways.

      • KC

        The parents could have easily pulled their son if they felt he was that bad! Obviously the parents had to know he had a concussion but THEY let him play still. Last time I checked parents can decide in the best interest of the child. and PLEASE prove to me how the school just passed him?

    • Wolfe

      I agree with you JP. It’s football – you’re going to get hit. When are the Parents going to take responsibility for the safety of their kids? What role did they play, did they tell Coach that something is wrong?
      I’ve been to many High School Football games and parents themselves tell their kids to “Shake it off” because they want their boy to be the Star of the Team.

  • m

    This sentence made me laugh “Family members say school staff should have known something was wrong and they blame the Highlands School District for dropping the ball.”

    The parents have no responsibility in this? Why did they let him continue playing football? Where were they when he was doing homework? Did they not realize his education was lacking? Or is this a family who thought their child would go on to be a sports legend and now he can’t and they are mad and blaming everyone else. Now if they had said that they talked to the coaches and explained there concerns, told them they didn’t want their son to play and the coaches still went ahead and let him play then my feeling would be different. I have experienced a concussion and to this day can not remember the event or a few hours before or after the accident so I know how scary and frustrating it is. I wouldn’t sue the people involved in it because I put myself in that situation. People are too “sue happy” and do not want to take responsibility for their actions

  • Mike

    Football is a contact sport. Really a lawsuit against the school? Are you kidding me? Everyone know’s when they play a contact sport there is a chance of injury. Whether a broken bone to concussion, be responsible for your own actions.

  • South Beach Guy

    This is a case of a family trying to make a few bucks. Using big words to make a mountain out of nothing. Concussions are not a good think but common in many sports, not just football. The fact that he has a tenth grade education amounts to nothing more than the kid being dumb. Thats on him. He’s a high school graduate not a space engineer.

  • KC

    I agree!!! This whole thing looks shady! You play football you know the risk, If he didn’t feel well why did he himself continue to play. He could have chosen to physically leave the field without his coaches permission. As for the parents UM HELLO he is your son, you could have pulled him out of the games as well.
    There was nothing keeping this boy or his family from making their own decisions .
    They just want the money, and I have feeling they are not going to get any. How can they prove the coaches didn’t say something to him? How do they know the “friend” who went to the coaches isn’t being bribed by the family to say something?
    PATHETIC they complain their son didn’t receive proper education well now other students may suffer because they are challenging the school
    Stop trying to make a few extra dollars. Get a real job and work for the money like the rest of us!

  • pamik


  • Rj

    All these sue happy people make this country pathetic.

    You’re playing football. The parents could have intervened.

    He was a dumb jock on top of the totem pole in high school. Now he’s out of high school and no one, he continues to want an easy ride… SO LETS SUE FOR MONEY!

  • MS

    If his family is so concerned about his well-being, why didn’t they bring up the issue his junior or senior year?

  • Luke R

    If he has a head injury who’s to say where it occurred. Momma may have upsided him in the head. Nobody forces any one to play HS Football. This sounds like another dirt ball hunting for free money. I can hear it in court, my son was going to be a famous cardilogist or sit on the Suprem Court. I want Millions $$$

  • HHS Parent

    My children have gone to Highlands for 10 years. I am not sticking up for this family, but most coaches have a mentality of “Rub some dirt on it, your fine”

    My son plays 3 sports, right now he has a severe progressive injury that was caused by an uneducated coach. I am not going to sue the coach, thats ridiculous. I decided to better educate myself about injuries. My son and I both have a better understanding on the long term effects an injury can have whether it is a head injury or a knee or shoulder.

    Parents need to take responsibility for protecting their children. Educate yourself and your children. Take them to the doctor more than once a year if they play sports.

    Teach your children that it is their body and their future and at anytime if they feel they need to come out of a game they should and you wont be “disappointed”

    With the proper treatment and support my son will play sports again, but I will never let anyone tell me that he is fine after an injury until I hear it from a professional!

    • Golden Ram

      Excellent points HHS. Coaches are human and will make mistakes, though I have yet to see a coach willingly hurt a child. If they do, there should be severe, immediate ramifications (never coach again). We, as parents have the final say when it involves our children. Be vigilent and take care of your kids.

  • Lenny

    Zack was not given proper medical attention back then. I don’t think that the insurance the athletes are covered under wanted to pay for any treatment.
    Golden Ram: you are a jerk.

    • Golden Ram

      Lenny… Lenny…Please expound on why I am jerk. I am very interested in your theory.

      • Lenny

        There is no theory. You just showed poor manners and exhibited bad form in your post. I was raised better than that. Too bad you weren’t.
        BTW… as long as a person does not have seizures, one can keep driving.

  • Not From Here

    Lenny: Why are you name calling. Can’t you see the facts. If the man only has a 10th grade education that means at the end of his 10th grade his parents said nothing, at the end of his 11th grade, his parents said nothing and when his school said time to graduate they said nothing. Where is the accountability maybe society should sue the parents for being inept.

  • Mad Golden Ram


    You are absolutely right. I am jerk. I need to change my ways. On Monday morning I will quit my job, tell my kids they can run amok and don’t need to go to school, cancel my car insurance, quit paying my taxes, apply for welfare, and maybe even bring a lawsuit against somebody. I might even get ambitious and build a meth lab in the backyard! Maybe then I won’t be such a jerk. Good luck with your pathetic life, you complete and total imbecile.

    BTW, check the PA Motor Vehicle Code (PA Code 67 Chapter 83) and see specifically where somebody who has a loss of attentiveness and / or awareness should not be behind the wheel. But that’s okay, when he packs it in, we can sue somebody for that too!!

    • Lenny

      I’m thinking about a kid. A kid that is not so bad. A kid that sustained a brain injury and was given little, if any support. Heck the front office people at the high school didn’t even know he was having problems. He should have been covered by the athletic insurance. I know for sure that he was given little help in the beginning. I know quite about about brain injury. It appears that some of you should attend that class as suggested by the 1st poster.
      GR – You are preoccupied on his parents of which I know nothing. I am only speaking about the kid of which I do know. Never met the parents.
      I guess you never heard the old saying “If you can’t say something nice about someone, don’t say anything at all.”
      And… I am aware of the PA Vehicle laws. Only a histiry of seizure will have his ticket lifted. Period, so get over it.
      Too bad you can’t use your real name instead of hiding behind “Golden Ram” like the Internet Tough Guy (Coward) that you are. I pity you.

      Not From Here – I suggest that you keep your nose out of this. Golden Ram was slandering those people. Maybe they can initiate another lawsuit by tracking down his IP address. :)
      Internet Tough guy. What a joke. Meet me in person.

      • Citizen Golden Ram


        Let me know where and when you want to meet; any time, any where, any place. I would love to hypothesize the substance of this sad situation with you. As for slander; maybe the Alts can sue the Commonwealth for providing all the information to the public about their type of lifestyle. All factual information and common public knowledge if you know where to look.

  • not from here

    Lenny: Now you are threating me. Maybe I should find the IP address on you and see if I can press charges.. Why didn’t you help the kid if you knew he was hiaving problems? Why did you sit back if you knew something was going on? Where were you when all this was going on?

    btw: you are incorrect about the pa driver code, and the definition of slander.

  • Lenny the Genius

    Mind your own business a threat? What a woosie. You’ll know when/if I threaten you. Believe me. You won’t have to guess.
    OK. it’s Libel, not slander. Better? Don’t worry about what I did. I tried to help the kid, but I won’t go into detail. Where were you? Where was Golden Ram? Other than spreading gossip and trashing the kids family in a public format, God forbid your life falls apart and someone publicly expounds upon you shortcomings.
    I don’t think that either of you have much to contribute to this issue and/or society in general. I know your kind.
    PA driver code is nebulous on proving some issues. I am right about seizures, but if you push the other isue, then you and some others should have your licenses lifted. :)
    Good bye, and I hope that “Karma” comes home to greet you.

blog comments powered by Disqus
Bringing You The Best in Sports Talk Radio
Download And Win Today!

Listen Live