NCAA Settles Wrongful Death Suit Mid-Trial
On June 15, 2018, the NCAA settled a lawsuit brought by Debra Ploetz, wife of former University of Texas football player, Greg Ploetz. Ploetz played college football from 1968 to 1972 but later died in 2015 from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). The lawsuit made it to a Dallas, Texas courtroom, but was settled after only three days of trial. The lawsuit was seen as a potential landmark case if the jury ruled against the NCAA, which is potentially the reason why the NCAA decided to settle the case. A court administrator confirmed the settlement, but no terms were released. The NCAA previously agreed to pay $70 million for a brain trauma trust fund to settle similar lawsuits.
As we have previously covered, the wrongful death suit alleged that Ploetz’s CTE and subsequent death resulted directly from his years spent playing for the University of Texas. Specifically, the suit claimed that the “NCAA knew or should have known about the long-term dangers to student athletes from concussive and sub-concussive blows to the head, the causal connection between head trauma sustained in college sports and the development of CTE, and the rules procedures, and protocols to prevent head trauma and prevent or slow the progression of CTE.” Also, Ploetz allegedly suffered from serious health problems for most of his life, including memory loss, difficulty communicating, and confusion.
Ploetz played at the University of Texas from 1968 to 1971. While there, he won a national title in 1969 and was the Southwest Conference Defensive Player of the Year in 1971. Ploetz did not play professionally, but graduated in 1972, earned a master’s degree and became a teacher. He stopped teaching in 2009 and later died in 2015. Boston University researchers concluded Ploetz had extensive brain damage and was diagnosed with postmortem CTE.