Witness: Super Bowl worker hit by ice falling from stadium suffered hearing loss
By JEFF MOSIER – Staff Writer
February 26, 2014
A Super Bowl XLV worker struck by falling ice and snow three years ago suffered severe hearing loss and has an “almost violent” ringing in his ear, the man’s audiologist testified in a Dallas County court Wednesday.
“You can’t get away from it,” Robin Carson said about her patient’s tinnitus. “You can’t have peace.”
She said Severin Sampson, who is suing over his injuries, once called her in a panic when his hearing aid stopped working. The ringing was described as ranging from 75 to 100 decibels and with a sound like that of a leaf blower.
Sampson wears a special hearing aid that compensates for the hearing loss and produces tones that distract his brain from the severe ringing.
The former sound engineer is asking for a multimillion-dollar settlement from the National Football League, two Super Bowl contractors and the Dallas Cowboys.
Carson said the inoperable nerve damage prevents Sampson from hearing high frequencies in his right ear without a hearing aid. But she said the loud ringing was the greater problem.
Brian Butcher, Sampson’s attorney, said the accident two days before the 2011 Super Bowl ended his client’s career as a sound engineer. Sampson’s skull was fractured just as he exited the Cowboys’ stadium in Arlington.
Defense attorneys have said security workers warned Butcher away from the location where he was struck.
Questioning from defense attorneys Wednesday sought to play down Sampson’s limitations.
Those lawyers said that Sampson mostly worked as a carpenter, electrician, stagehand and in other related jobs before the accident. They said only about a quarter of his work involved sound engineering and that his hearing problems wouldn’t limit him from most jobs.
“In the real world, he hears just fine,” Carson said in a deposition that was read to the jury.
Andrew Houtz, a neuropsychologist hired by the plaintiff’s attorneys, said he tested Sampson and concluded that he suffered from personality changes, including greater religiosity, less self-control and greater irritability. He also said Sampson’s behavior drove away many of his friends following the accident.
“I believe it’s a direct result of a brain injury,” he said.
Paul Grinke, a lawyer representing the Cowboys and NFL, pointed out that Houtz did not meet with Sampson’s family or friends. And the attorney also singled out other factors that could have affected Sampson’s temperament, including his three heart attacks and marijuana use.