Category Archives: College
Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP has announced the addition of eight partners to the firm’s Insurance and Business Trial practices, including one — R. Randal Crispen – who is involved in concussion litigation. Crispen, who will join Sheppard Mullin’s San Diego office, previously practiced at McKenna, Long & Aldridge.
He currently represents a major insurer in coverage litigation arising out of the National Football League and NCAA players’ concussion injury litigation.
Crispen also has obtained defense verdicts as lead trial counsel in state and federal courts throughout Southern California. He received a J.D. from University of California, Berkeley – Boalt Hall in 1985 and a B.A., highest honors, from University of California, Santa Barbara in 1981.
Frank N. Darras of DarrasLaw, who proclaims himself “America’s Top Insurance Lawyer,” recently issued a press release in which he talked about the rise in concussions and why professional athletes need to confirm “the value of (their) disability policy.”
“Concussions have become more and more worrisome in the world of professional sports as the rate of injury seems to increase every year. They also have a long-lasting effect even after an athlete has retired from sports,” according to Darras.
“Major League Baseball has implemented protocols in recent years regarding concussions,” he continued. “They are designed to keep players from returning to the game too early and causing more serious injuries. The risk of a disabling injury can hardly be ignored after such a close call. As a result, each and every one of these players should take a good, hard look at their disability insurance policies and make sure they’re covered for a concussion or any other injury they may face while playing the game.”
Darras added that such “policies are extremely important in sports with the risk of injuries being so high.”
Sterling Thomas, a freshman defensive back at Lindenwood University in 2012, fractured his C5 vertebrae during a tackle, leaving him paralyzed.
Generous donations from the College Football Assistance Fund, private donors and the St. Louis Rams have helped offset some of the onerous expenses.
However, neither the NCAA nor the NAIA has provided catastrophic injury insurance coverage, according to various reports.
Lindenwood, formerly a member of the NAIA, applied for NCAA membership in 2010. The candidacy process takes approximately three years to complete, whereby the prospective member familiarizes itself with the NCAA’s absurd bylaws and constitution. After the first two years, the prospective member is designated as a provisional member.
Throughout the three-year period, the prospective member is required to abide by all NCAA bylaws. Notwithstanding this strict adherence to the NCAA rules, a gaping hole is left in insurance coverage for the student-athletes.
While the administrators seek the spoils of NCAA membership, the laborers are left unprotected. According to NCAA rules, provisional members are not eligible for the NCAA’s catastrophic-injury insurance program, which is insufficient in any event.
Although prospective members are required to certify that they have insurance coverage, it’s unclear what amount, if any, Lindenwood University is actually covering in Sterling Thomas’ cases.
There is no doubt that Lindenwood profited significantly during this transitional period. “During the past three years, Lindenwood’s athletics has grown. It has increased its athletics staff, and improved facilities—a new $9 million Student-Athlete Center opened in the fall of 2012.”
Ironically, Lindenwood touts, “The biggest winners are our student-athletes, who will enjoy great competition and participate in all the opportunities that NCAA II membership provides, both athletically and academically.”
In reality, the biggest winners are the administrators and the NCAA, while student-athletes, like Thomas, are left with damaged spinal cords and brains and saddled with astronomical medical expenses.
This story is developing. Meanwhile, I welcome the NCAA and/or Lindenwood University to respond to this post itemizing the contributions they have made to Sterling Thomas.