NCAA Concussions: Judge Signs Off on NCAA Settlement, Subject to Modifications

On January 26, 2016, U.S. District Judge John Z. Lee granted preliminary approval of the $75 million settlement offered by the NCAA in a concussion litigation brought by a class of current and former student-athletes. However, in approving the settlement, the court added certain modifications, which the NCAA will have to accept in order for the agreement to take effect.

The proposed NCAA settlement included an agreement to contribute $70 million toward a medical-monitoring fund, which would be used to screen current and former student-athletes for signs of concussions and other related trauma. The NCAA also agreed to contribute $5 million for concussion related research. However, Adrian Arrington —representative of the plaintiff class — objected to the proposal, arguing it would preclude individual members of the class from bringing bodily injury claims against the NCAA and its member schools.

On Tuesday, Judge Lee approved the NCAA proposed settlement, however, provided certain modifications, proposing that the NCAA and member schools do not remain completely safe from personal injury claims by members of the class, even on a class basis, where the claims are brought against an individual school.

Judge Lee provided, “[t]he factual record before the court, however, does not provide sufficient facts from which the court can conclude that a class that is much more narrowly defined in terms of size, type of sport, and/or time period could never be certified against a particular school. . . [n]or can the court conclude from the present record that a very narrowly defined, single-school personal injury class could never be certified against the NCAA.”

A hearing before the court was rescheduled from this week to early next month. The parties will have until then to decide whether or not to accept the modified terms of the settlement.

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