Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Next up for concussion litigation: The NCAA

The agreement between the NFL and more than 4,000 former players to settle a lawsuit over concussions for $765 million does not end the issue. Four more players -- Jimmy Williams, Rich Mauti, Jimmy Keyes and Nolan Franz -- filed a federal lawsuit in New Orleans on Sunday accusing the league and helmet maker Riddell Inc. of hiding evidence about the dangers of brain injury.

That case could be folded into the larger settlement, the lawyer in that case said.

But no such luck for the NCAA, which faces its own class action by three former players, Chris Walker and Ben Martin of Tennessee and Dan Ahern of North Carolina State. This is not the first case to make the claim that the college football governing body failed to educate players about the risk of concussions. But what makes it interesting is that the lead attorney is Michael Hausfeld, who is also handling the O'Bannon case that accuses the NCAA of using athletes' images and likenesses without just compensation.

Here's the full release from Hausfield:


Hausfeld Files Medical Monitoring Class Action for Former College Football Players

Chattanooga, TN (September 3, 2013) -- Hausfeld LLP filed a medical monitoring complaint today on behalf of certain former NCAA football players seeking medical monitoring related to brain injuries caused by repeated head trauma.  The complaint alleges that the NCAA had a duty to the former players to educate them about the risks of concussions; to establish protocols to prevent, mitigate, monitor, diagnose, and treat brain injuries; and to offer education and needed medical monitoring to its former players.  The complaint further alleges that the NCAA failed to meet its obligations to the former players and these players are suffering the dramatic consequences of that neglect today.

Three former NCAA football players are bringing the case as representatives of a class of all former players.  Each of the former players suffered concussions, is at significant risk of brain injury, and is in need of medical monitoring.  Two of the named plaintiffs, Chris Walker and Ben Martin, played defensive-end for the University of Tennessee from 2007-2011.  Walker and Martin recall repetitive head trauma in scrimmages, practices, and games during their careers.  The third representative, Dan Ahern, played offensive guard for North Carolina State from 1972-1976.  Ahern recalled being flown from Pennsylvania to Raleigh for hospitalization after suffering a concussion in a game against Penn State during his senior year. 

Lead counsel on the complaint, Michael Hausfeld, stated “The NCAA has not taken the necessary steps to protect these former players even though the medical tools to assist them have been available for some time.  It is not too late now for the NCAA to offer important education and needed medical testing to these former players.”

The complaint seeks a court-supervised, NCAA-funded, comprehensive medical monitoring program to benefit former football players.  The class is limited to players who did not go on to play professional football in the National Football League as those players are covered by a separate proposed settlement.

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