Settlement Reached Between Student Athlete and University in Concussion Litigation

(Editor’s Note: What follows is an excerpt from an article that appeared in the April issue of Concussion Litigation Reporter. To subscribe, visit the following link – http://concussionpolicyandthelaw.com/subscribe/)

A confidential settlement agreement has reportedly been reached between the parties in Walen v. Portland State University, et al., in the Circuit Court of the State of Oregon, Multnomah County, No. 14CV12218.

While the financial terms weren’t disclosed, attorneys for plaintiff Zachary Walen noted that Portland State University (PSU) has agreed to update the concussion policy used by its sports medicine staff. The changes reportedly include:

  1. The risk of developing post-concussion syndrome will be included in the education provided to student-athletes and the training provided to coaches and staff.
  2. The training of coaches and staff will include an explanation regarding the concussion healing process, which depending on the student athlete’s condition, can take weeks and possibly longer.
  3. Student-athletes will be informed of their right to seek, at their own cost, a return-to-play opinion from a physician who is not a member of the PSU Sports Medicine Staff. The most conservative opinion will be followed. All student-athletes will be informed of this option during the education provided to student-athletes.
  4. At the student-athlete’s request and with his or her consent, the parent(s) of a concussed student-athlete will be informed if their son or daughter has been diagnosed with a concussion and when the student-athlete has been cleared to return to full sport participation. All student-athletes will be informed of this option during the education provided to student-athletes.

The initial injury to Walen, who sought $5 million in damages, occurred on opening day in September of 2012 during the linebacker’s first game as a Viking. It is uncontested that in the fourth quarter of that game that Walen suffered a head injury after a direct blow to the head. Though coaches and staff allegedly failed to identify the concussion in the aftermath of the hit, Walen’s parents brought him to the hospital shortly after the game, where he was diagnosed with a concussion.

The plaintiff alleged in his complaint that …

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