Benefis found Not Guilty in Back V. Benefis Trial

It took jurors only 2 1/2 hours to come up with that unanimous verdict of not guilty for Benefis in the Back V. Benefis trial.

For the last 13 days, the jury heard testimony from doctors, expert witnesses, and even Roberts family.

A major role in this trial was athletic trainer Jessica Hansen.  The backs case was rooted in the fact she handled Roberts injury directly.

She said a lack of information from head coach Jeff Graham as well as the back family eventually lead her to say he was "ok concussion wise."

Shortly after the verdict was read, Benefis sent out this statement.


While Benefis Health System is pleased with the jury's finding that we are not responsible or liable for Robert Back's injuries, we continue to be deeply saddened by the tragic injuries Robert suffered. We wish Robert and his family nothing but the best for the future.

As for the Backs, we've been told this is the end of the road regarding the case. 

Steve Shapiro, attorney for the family gave us the following statement

"We did the very best we could... we did the best we could for our clients, and we respect the jury's decision."

Monday marked Day 1 in the case of Robert Back v. Benefis Health System. Over 270 people were originally called for jury duty, though that number dwindled down to 210 expected at the Montana Expo Park Monday morning for the start of jury selection. By 10 am, over half of those in attendance were deemed "statutorily disqualified," and even more were later dismissed for reasons ranging from medical concerns to travel plans and calving season. 

After lunch, the group moved back to the Cascade County Courthouse. The pool was narrowed down to the final 12 jurors and three alternates, who will eventually decide who will be held responsible for Robert Back's 2014 injury that left him permanently disabled. 

The trial is expected to last about three weeks. 

KFBB has been in contact with Back family attorney Steve Shapiro, and even had the opportunity to sit down with the Back family after Robert returned home from treatment.

For the first time in over a year, Benefis responded to our questions ahead of the case, releasing a statement that says:

"We are confident that when all the facts are presented at trial it will be clear that Benefis Health System should not be blamed for Robert Back's injuries.  Two medical doctors told Robert and his family that Robert was not to play football that week.  Two days before the game, Robert's doctor gave Robert and his family a note to give to Robert's football coaches making clear that Robert was not to play in the game Friday night. Robert and his family chose not to follow the doctors’ instructions.  

Everyone involved in this case at Benefis was deeply saddened by the tragic injuries Robert suffered, but it would be wrong to blame Benefis."

To see previous coverage over the years, click here

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