The NCAA has agreed to mediate another concussion case pending against it, according to an October 18, 2013 filing.
Last month, Chris Walker filed the case against the NCAA contending that the organization failed to protect student-athletes from concussions. Walker, a former defensive end for the University of Tennessee, is seeking class action status for all former NCAA football players. The parties agreed to mediation of the claims. Retired U.S. District Judge Layn Phillips will over see the mediation set to take place on February 18, 2014. Phillips is the same mediator who aided former NFL players to settle their concussion case against the NFL.
The February mediation is not the only concussion mediation in which NCAA and Phillips will participate in the coming months. In 2011, Adrian Arrington and others filed a similar class action case against the NCAA. Those plaintiffs announced last month that Phillips will mediate their claims on November 5, 2103.
In addition to the Arrington mediation, a hearing in front of the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) may impact the Walker case’s future. The JPML promotes consistency in legal rulings by allowing one judge to make decisions for multiple similar cases. Similar cases are merged in an effort to conserve judicial resources.
The Arrington plaintiffs requested that the two cases be combined, however, the Walker plaintiffs have opposed the request. On December 5, 2013, the JPML will hear arguments about merging the two cases. The variations in potential class members and potential remedies are likely to be biggest points of contention between the Walker and Arrington plaintiffs at the hearing.
Since the JPML hearing is after the Arrington mediation, it is unclear whether the Walker plaintiffs will be part of the November mediation.
One thing is clear; concussion claims may prove costly for those other than the NFL. In addition to the Walker and Arrington cases, other concussion cases continue to be filed against the NCAA. Earlier this month, another group of plaintiffs filed a case against the NCAA and Riddell Inc.