Too Many Men on the Field?

(Editor’s Note: What follows is an excerpt from an article written by Contributing Writer Margaret Kelly that appeared in the October issue of Concussion  Litigation Reporter. If interested in getting the details and reading the whole story, please subscribe to CLR)

With settlements from its concussion-related lawsuits topping $70 million by July, this was not a great summer for the NCAA’s bottom-line, not to mention its public image. And the fall may be no better. A former college linebacker recently filed suit against his old school, the NCAA, and a host of other co-defendants for their allegedly egregious mismanagement of a serious concussion he suffered on the field at the start of his freshman season. His lawsuit prays for a judgment totaling $5 million in damages.

The initial injury around which the lawsuit revolves occurred on opening day in September, 2012, during his first game as a college player. It is uncontested that in the fourth quarter of that game, he suffered a concussion after a direct blow to the head. Though coaches and staff failed to identify the concussion in the aftermath of the hit, his parents brought him to the hospital shortly after the game, where he was diagnosed.

In the main, the lawsuit alleges that following his injury, he did not receive the post-concussion testing and care mandated by international best practices, the NCAA, or even the school’s own policies and procedures. In short, the lawsuit alleges that he was cleared to return to the field long before his concussion had resolved. He played eight more games, as linebacker, that season. As an allegedly direct and foreseeable result of this premature return to play, he suffered additional concussive/sub-concussive hits while his brain was still healing, causing persistent and now permanent brain injury.

The 38-page Complaint sets out the alleged consequences of his injuries in painstaking detail.  According to his lawsuit, he has been deeply affected physically, cognitively and emotionally. He suffers from balance trouble, crippling headaches, persistent numbness in his body and chronic difficulties sleeping; he has trouble focusing and struggles with impaired memory; he experienced and continues to experience unexplained anger, along with acute bouts of depression and anxiety. Not surprisingly, he was forced to quit college football and in 2013, withdrew from the school altogether … .

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