NCAA Faces Another Concussion Class Action Over Breach of Protective Duty

The NCAA faces another potential class action after several former college football players filed suit in Indiana federal court attacking the organization’s concussion protocol, or lack thereof.

Some might say the organization should have seen it coming in light of the modified $75 million dollar medical monitoring settlement the NCAA reached with players last May. The original settlement was modified out of concerns that the settlement would preclude players from bringing individual personal injury claims based on contract principles, and left open the possibility of athletes suing their individual colleges on behalf of a single sport. And that is just what college athletes have been doing ever since.

The group of former players alleges that the NCAA breached the contracts embedded in the players’ agreements by failing to protect and warn student-athletes of the possible repercussions of head injuries, and that by doing so the organization was in contravention of the NCAA’s constitution, rules and bylaws. The players alternatively argued that even in the absence of a direct contractual relationship between the athletes and the NCAA, the players remain third-party beneficiaries of contracts between the NCAA and its member institutions, who have a duty to protect them.

More specifically, the players say the NCAA neglected to provide a safe environment through its failure to adequately educate players re concussion symptoms and its failure to promulgate rules to adequately address these issues. In support of these allegations, the players take it back to 1928, highlighting a series of head injury studies that the NCAA allegedly failed to address. This was so despite the NCAA’s knowledge of the medically proven fact that repetitive concussions would lead to brain injuries in many football players.

The plaintiffs’ attorney, Vincent Circelli, anticipates filing suit on behalf of at least 45 former college athletes, a number he says could eventually reach over 100.

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