In trial, doctors describe setbacks for man hit by ice falling from stadium

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by TANYA EISERER

Bio | Email | Follow: @tanyaeiserer

WFAA

Posted on February 26, 2014 at 3:10 PM

Updated Wednesday, Feb 26 at 5:56 PM

DALLAS -- An audiologist testified Wednesday morning that a former Super Bowl halftime worker has endured a "violent" ringing inside his head that would be akin to the sound of someone constantly shouting.

The ringing sound in Severin Sampson's head is about 75 decibels, testified audiologist Dr. Robin Carson. By comparison, normal speech is about 50 decibels. A sound of a airplane would be about 120 decibels.

"To constantly have a 75 decibel sound in your ear would be unnerving," she said, adding he has profound hearing loss in his right ear.

Sampson, 48, was hit by falling ice at the Dallas Cowboys stadium two days before the Super Bowl in February 2011. Other people were also injured by the falling ice and snow when warming temperatures melted the accumulation on the roof.

His attorneys have asked for a multi-million judgment from a Dallas County jury. He’s suing the NFL, the Dallas Cowboys, and the architectural firm that designed the stadium, as well as several other defendants.

Attorneys for the other side have argued that what happened to Sampson was merely an accident, and that there was no way it could have been foreseen. They’ve also argued that his injuries and problems are not as lasting and severe as billed.

Tell that to Sampson’s mother, Carolyn Thomas.

"Before this happened to him, he was an easygoing person," she said. "He didn't argue with anybody."

His personality has changed significantly since the accident, she said.

"He wanted everybody to believe what he said," Thomas said. "He would argue with anyone. He would try to impose his beliefs on everybody."

A neuropsychologist hired by Sampson’s lawyers gave the medical explanation.

Dr. Andrew Houtz said Sampson suffers from a traumatic brain injury that caused his personality to change. Those changes included bouts of anger, a lack of restraint, and irritability.

In court Wednesday, Thomas also describe some of the other difficulties her son had shortly after his injury, including problems with balance and walking.

The persistent ringing in his head was the worst part, she said.

"He just kept saying, 'It's driving me crazy,'" said Thomas, who said her son now lives with her, rather than on his own.

As a result of hearing problems, she testified that he can no longer work as a sound engineer and continues to have difficulties in noisy environments.

Attorneys for the other side argued that it must not be that bad, since he frequently plays poker at bars and in tournaments.

Sampson now wears an FDA-approved device on his right ear that helps distract his brain from the constant ringing. It doesn't make the ringing go away, the audiologist said.

"It helps him deal with it," Carson said.

E-mail teiserer@wfaa.com

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