Concussion Lawsuit against IHSA Could Open Floodgates

(Editor’s Note: What follows is an excerpt from the December issue of Concussion Litigation Reporter)

Time will tell whether a class action lawsuit filed earlier this month by a former high school quarterback against the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) will be the first of many copycat lawsuits around the country.

The plaintiff in the case is Daniel Bukal, who was a star quarterback at Notre Dame College Prep in Niles, Ill. from 1999 to 2003. The plaintiff, who never played college football, alleged in the lawsuit that the “criteria” for returning him to the playing field “was not uniform and followed no consistent, medical protocol that would ensure (that his) return to the field would be safe.” Because of this, he allegedly suffered multiple concussions, which have led to migraines and some memory loss.

Like many associations, the IHSA did not have concussion protocols in place at the time. This placed Bukal and other high school football players at risk, according to the lawsuit.

Bukal, who is represented by Chicago-based attorney Joseph Siprut, is asking the IHSA to tighten rules regarding head injuries and concussions, and include baseline testing and other initiatives. Siprut represented several former college athletes in the recent concussion lawsuit against the NCAA. That litigation was settled with the NCAA committing $70 million to a medical monitoring program to test athletes for traumatic brain injuries. The settlement, which is before a judge, is mired in some controversy about who the winner in the case is – the plaintiffs, their attorneys, or the NCAA.

Siprut told the media that he intends to file lawsuits against other state high school athletic associations. He has not targeted the National Federation of State High School Associations because it does not exert the same control over its members that the NCAA does.

As for the Illinois litigation, the class being specified includes every high school football player who participated for an IHSA member school from 2002 to the present.

Among some of the more unique aspects of the lawsuit …

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