Widow of Notre Dame Football Player Hopeful for CTE Suit to Stand

As we have previously covered, the wife of former Notre Dame football player, Steven Schmitz, filed a lawsuit targeting Notre Dame and the NCAA in 2014 on behalf of her late husband. She is seeking to recover for the college and organization’s alleged “reckless disregard” for the safety of college football players, specifically during the time period that Schmitz spent playing for the team in the 1970s, which led to his diagnosis of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in 2012, and his ultimate passing in…
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Judge Scales Back Discovery in NCAA Wrongful Death Suit

On March 1, 2018, a Texas court of appeals filed a writ of mandamus, partially granting and partially denying the NCAA’s appeal of a prior discovery order. The suit was initiated by Debra Ploetz, wife of former University of Texas football player, Greg Ploetz, who played for the team from 1968 to 1972 and who died in 2015 from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). The wrongful death suit alleges the late athlete’s CTE condition and subsequent death resulted directly from his years spent playing for…
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Colombia Law School Holds Conference on NFL Concussion Lawsuit’s Uncapped Settlement Fund

On March 2, 2018, at a conference on class action jurisprudence held at Columbia Law School, advocates and opponents discussed U.S. District Judge Anita Brody’s decision to move the NFL concussion class-action litigation toward an uncapped settlement. Judge Brody, a Columbia Law graduate, attended the conference. As previously reported, in April 2015, the NFL entered into a settlement agreement with almost 22,000 former players. The settlement established a 65-year uncapped monetary fund for players who could prove certain neurological diagnoses. The settlement provided a…
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NFL Continues to Argue Hernandez Suit is a Matter of Federal Labor Law

On December 18, 2017, the National Football League responded in opposition to Avielle Hernandez’s motion to remand her lawsuit against the NFL back to state court. Also named in the suit are helmet maker Riddell and other related companies. Avielle’s lawsuit seeks compensation for the NFL’s role in her father’s, Aaron Hernandez’s, post-mortem diagnosis of stage 3 chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Those diagnosed with CTE exhibit symptoms that include impulse control issues, aggression, depression, dementia, and suicidality. Hernandez committed suicide while serving a life sentence…
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Should Hernandez CTE Case Remain Separate from Class-Action Concussion Litigation?

Lawyers for the estate of late NFL star Aaron Hernandez are trying to prevent a $20 million lawsuit, filed on behalf of Hernandez’ five-year-old daughter against the National Football League, from being merged with a wider class-action suit addressing former players’ concussions. The defendants, including the NFL and helmet manufacturer Riddell, asked U.S. District Judge George A. O’Toole in November to temporarily stay proceedings in the case until the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) rules whether the action should be added to the…
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Estate of Former UNC Player Sues NCAA and ACC

The estate of former University of North Carolina offensive lineman, Ryan Hoffman, has sued both the ACC and NCAA on claims of negligence, breach of contract, and unjust enrichment in relation to head injuries Hoffman sustained while playing for UNC. The action seeks to establish a class action including former UNC players or their representatives. Hoffman’s suit alleges the ACC and NCAA failed to provide adequate medical attention addressing severe and/or multiple concussions, failed to protect Hoffman and other players from brain trauma leading to…
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Hernandez’s Daughter Fights Back to Keep Suit in State Court

On November 20, 2017, counsel for Aaron Hernandez’s daughter, Avielle, opposed the NFL’s bid to pause her lawsuit as well as the NFL’s removal of the case into federal court. The lawsuit blames Hernandez’s violent behavior, as he committed suicide in prison while waiting for his appeal of his murder conviction, on his after-death diagnosis of stage three chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Specifically, the suit alleged that the NFL and helmet maker Riddell, Inc. concealed information that linked football to CTE and mild traumatic brain…
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NFL Requests Hernandez Suit to be Paused

On November 15, 2017, the NFL moved a Massachusetts federal court to stay the proceedings of the lawsuit filed by Aaron Hernandez’s daughter for his late-stage chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) until a decision is made about transferring the case to multidistrict litigation. After Hernandez committed suicide in prison, it was found that he had stage three CTE at the age of 27, which is most commonly seen in men in their 60s. Hernandez’s daughter claimed the NFL knew about CTE since the 1960s but did…
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Researchers Report Evidence of CTE in a Living Patient for the First Time

Researchers in Chicago report they have detected evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in a living patient for the first time by detecting deposits of tau proteins. The degenerative brain disease currently can only be formally diagnosed after an autopsy. The study also confirmed that a “fingerprint” signature of CTE exists. More research is needed to verify the correlation, but it is a groundbreaking first step toward understanding CTE and developing a cure. The case study was published in the journal Neurosurgery this…
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NFL Removes Hernandez Suit to Federal Court

On November 14, 2017, the NFL removed Aaron Hernandez’s daughter’s lawsuit to Massachusetts federal court. The lawsuit seeks to hold the NFL, as well as helmet maker Riddell, Inc. accountable for Hernandez’s development of severe chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). The NFL moved the case to federal court based on their assertion that the claim arises under federal law. Hernandez’s daughter, Avielle, filed the suit initially in Norfolk County Superior Court in Dedham, Massachusetts. She claimed the NFL and Riddell hid and downplayed the risks of…
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