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NCAA Continues to Face Concussion Related Suits

Even though the Indianapolis-based National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) outlined strict guidelines to prevent concussions among athletes at the college level, lawsuits continue to mount against the nation’s biggest governing sports body.

In June (2016), the family of Zack Langston, a former college linebacker at Pittsburgh State who killed himself in 2014, filed a lawsuit against the NCAA, blaming its handling of concussions. Langston allegedly suffered more concussions at Pittsburgh State.

The federal lawsuit filed in Kansas City, Kansas also names the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association, the league that includes Division II’s Pittsburgh State, where Langston played from 2007-2010.

The lawsuit alleges Langston was not given appropriate medical treatment—at times none—for many of the “more than 100 concussions” he sustained as an outside linebacker at Pittsburg State, where he often was told to “shake it off.”

The lawsuit claims the NCAA and the MIAA knew for decades “that severe head impacts can lead to long-term brain injury,” but both “recklessly ignored these facts” and failed to put in place concussion-management protocols to safeguard student-athletes.

Concussions and their effect on the brain have received considerable attention in recent years as researchers concluded there is a link between Chronic Tramatic Encephalopathy (CTE), Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease), Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and dementia.

In January of last year, a federal judge in Chicago gave preliminary approval to a head-injury settlement between thousands of former athletes and the NCAA. That proposal includes a $70 million fund to pay for testing current and former athletes for brain injuries they say they suffered while playing collegiate sports, with the tests meant to gauge the extent of neurological injuries and perhaps establish grounds for individual athletes seeking damages.

The NCAA also is required to make return-to-play rules after a concussion even tougher and all athletes will take baseline neurological tests to start each year to help doctors determine the severity of any concussion during the season.

The NCAA admitted no wrongdoing in the settlement and has denied understating the dangers of concussions. That deal awaits a judge’s final approval, with a hearing scheduled for September 22.

There are many instances of questionable treatment of suspected brain injuries at the hands of coaches and other athletic personnel at all levels of sports.   If you feel that someone in your family has suffered an injury of the head, back or spine because of the irresponsibility of a person who should know better, contact Theodoros & Rooth immediately.  We have a reputation of fighting aggressively for justice of people who didn’t deserve to become victims.  There is never a fee until the case is resolved in your favor.