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Are State High School Athletic Association Policies Effective for Concussion Management?

(Editor’s Note: What follows is an excerpt from the recent issue of Concussion Litigation Reporter. To read the full article, please subscribe at http://concussionpolicyandthelaw.com/subscribe/)

By John Miller, Troy University, and Robin Ammon, University of South Dakota

Many interscholastic athletes, particularly high school football players, are likely to incur concussions while participating in a sport (McCrea, Hammeke, Olsen, Leo, & Guskiewicz, 2004). Copeland (2010) further indicated that 3.4 out of every 1000 athletes suffer a concussion in interscholastic contests or practices. Because of increasing documentation of sport-related concussions, public awareness has also increased. It is, therefore, essential that high school officials such as athletic directors, coaches, and athletic trainers be aware of the standard of care guidelines to manage the risk of concussion that could reduce potential litigation. A primary source of these guidelines may be found in the state athletic association policies.

Currently all 50 states, plus the District of Columbia, have sport-related concussion laws in place (Weinberger & Briskin, 2013).  However, most state courts have expressed a reluctance to interfere judicially with the contractual relationship between a state high school athletic association and its member schools (Mitten, 2014). Courts have also taken the position that they are not in the best position to decide sports disputes and instead defer to sport regulators and voluntary associations to make decisions according to their own rules (Indiana High School Athletic Association v. Carlberg, 1997). Furthermore, Crane v. Indiana High School Athletic Association (1992) suggested that the state governing body’s rules, interpretations, and applications should be published to provide standard of care guideline to its member schools, students, and parents.

The results of a study on state high school athletic association policies for managing sport-related concussions revealed that concussion education policies for more than 70% of high school athletic directors did not exist (Miller & Ammon, 2017). However, nearly 75% of coaches were required to review concussion information or follow the standards set by the National Federation of High School Associations (NFHS). Almost 65% of the state policies required licensed medical personnel such as team doctors to make the final concussion diagnosis.  Disturbingly, more than 5% did not specify a policy as to who is responsible for a final concussion diagnosis. When describing the type of concussion protocols, 48% did not indicate any type of concussion protocols to be followed during a contest. However, 22% followed NFHS policy guidelines. While nearly 50% of the state policies did not specify …

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Court Denies NFL’s Statute of Limitations Argument in Concussion Case Involving Player from the 1950s

(Editor’s Note: What follows is an excerpt from an article that appeared in the March Concussion Litigation Reporter)A New York state trial court has denied the NFL’s motion to dismiss a claim in which the son of a former NFL player, who was diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) after his death, sued the league for fraud and negligence.

The lawsuit was filed by Arthur DeCarlo Jr. after his father, Art DeCarlo, died in 2013.  DeCarlo Jr. alleged in the complaint that the risks associated with repeated head blows have been researched and written about in medical journals for nearly a century. Yet, the NFL “ignored, minimized, disputed and suppressed” such studies linking CTE to football. The “century” reference is important because DeCarlo played football for the defendant from 1953 to 1961.

Specifically, he asserted the following causes of action: “(1) counts one and two-fraudulent concealment and fraud; (2) count three-civil conspiracy; (3) counts four and five-negligence; (4) count six-negligent misrepresentation; (5) counts seven and eight-negligent hiring and retention; and (6) count nine-wrongful death and survival.

The NFL moved to dismiss the complaint, arguing that the claims … (To see the full article, please subscribe at http://concussionpolicyandthelaw.com/subscribe/)

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Table of Contents for the March 2017 Issue of Concussion Litigation Reporter

March 2017, Vol. 5, No. 9

Timely reporting on developments and legal strategies at the intersection of sports and concussions—articles that benefit practicing attorneys who may be pursuing a claim or defending a client.

Articles

Concussion Lawsuit Puts Focus on Tracking Concussed Athletes After They Leave the Playing Field and Engage in Other School Activities; Experts Weigh In

New York State Attorney General Goes After Company that Allegedly Scammed Concussion Victims

Court Denies NFL’s Statute of Limitations Argument in Concussion Case Involving Player from the 1950s

Attorney: Connecticut Concussion Bill Falls Short

Diagnosing a Sports Concussion Remains a Vexing Challenge

Former High School Football Player Sues School District, Others Over Alleged Failure to Follow Concussion Protocol

NHL’s Subpoena Regarding CTE: Valid Production Request or Invasion of Privacy?

Women May Be at Higher Risk for Sports-Related Concussion Than Men

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