3 Former College Football Players Sue NCAA In Chattanooga Federal Court Over Concussion Issue

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Three former college football players, including a current Chattanooga resident, have filed suit in Chattanooga Federal Court against the NCAA over the issue of concussions.

The 29-page suit says the NCAA "has breached its duty to protect college football players in the face of long-standing and overwhelming evidence regarding the need to do so. The NCAA has ignored this duty and profited immensely from its inaction and denial, all to the detriment of the players."

It says the NCAA "has failed to educate its football-playing athletes of the long term, life-altering risks and consequences of head impacts in football. They have failed to establish known protocols to prevent, mitigate, monitor, diagnose and treat brain injuries."

The complaint was filed by Chris Walker of Chattanooga, a defensive end for the University of Tennessee 2007-2111; Ben Walker of Knoxville, a defensive end for the University of Tennessee 2007-2111; and Dan Ahern of Pensacola, Fla., an offensive guard for North Carolina State from 1972-1976.

It says Chris Walker during his college career "experienced repeated traumatic head impacts. For example, in the 2009 season he collided with another player in practice and experienced lightheadedness and nausea which he reported to the team trainer. In the same season in a game against the University of Mississippi, Mr. Walker sustained a hit that left him lightheaded and dizzy, and he was temporarily removed from the game. Mr. Walker believes that he suffered other similar head impacts in his college career, but cannot recall them with specificity. After graduation, Mr. Walker has experienced frequent severe headaches that have not been amenable to treatment by over-the-counter medication. Mr. Walker is at increased risk of latent brain injuries caused by repeated head impacts in his college football career and therefore is in need of medical monitoring."

It says Ben Martin during his college career "experienced repeated traumatic head impacts. For example, Mr. Martin recalls an impact to the head in a game against the University of Georgia, most likely during the 2009 season, in which he was blindsided and experienced lightheadedness and dizziness. He recalls returning to play the next time the defense took the field. Mr. Martin believes that he suffered other similar head impacts in his college career, but he cannot recall them with specificity. After graduation, Mr. Martin has experienced frequent headaches. Mr. Martin is at increased risk of latent brain injuries caused by repeated traumatic head impacts in his college football career and therefore is in need of medical monitoring."

The lawsuit says Dan Ahern during his college career "experienced repeated traumatic head impacts. For example, during his freshman year, he suffered a concussion in a spring scrimmage which required a two-night stay in the infirmary for observation. During his sophomore and junior seasons he believes he suffered other concussions, but he cannot recall them with specificity. During his senior year he suffered a concussion during a game against Pennsylvania State University and he was flown to Raleigh, North Carolina and hospitalized for observation. After graduation, Mr. Ahern has experienced an inability to concentrate, poor memory, a ringing in his ears, and sleeping problems. He has also suffered physical ailments and pain associated with these ailments leading to retirement at age 50 and disability as of 2007. Mr. Ahern is at increased risk of latent brain injuries caused by repeated traumatic head impacts and therefore is in need of medical monitoring."

The suit says, "Annual revenues for the NCAA in fiscal year 2007-2008 were $614 million. Almost 90% of the NCAA’s annual budget revenues stem from marketing and television rights, with only 9-10% coming from championship game revenues. The NCAA’s operations are also highly profitable. The direct expenses for operating the actual games that generated the $614 million in revenues were only $59 million."

It asks for a court-supervised, NCAA-funded, comprehensive medical monitoring program for affected foootball players, "which would facilitate the early diagnosis and adequate treatment of brain injury."

The suit, which seeks to become a class action, was filed by a number of leading law firms from around the country.

The case has been assigned to Judge Curtis Collier.

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