Several former college football players filed class-action lawsuits this past week against their universities, conferences and the NCAA claiming negligence over their handling of the Plaintiff’s head injuries. There were six cases filed Tuesday and the cases mark a new effort by athletes seeking financial relief for what they say are the lasting effects from concussions sustained in their college careers. Some of the named defendants include Penn State and Vanderbilt and three football conferences: the Big Ten, the Southeastern Conference and the Pacific 12.
Earlier this year, a federal judge proposed a settlement in a class-action lawsuit against the NCAA on behalf of all college athletes. The settlement approved by the judge included new safety protocols but no payments to any former players struggling with brain disorders. In contrast, when the NFL was sued by a group of retired players in the league reaching agreement that included hundreds of millions of dollars for payments to help those with any of the several neurological diseases.
The lawsuits filed by former players pertain only to football players and are separate from the original class action against NCAA. They were filed in various federal court districts around the country. Auburn Georgia Oregon and Utah are the other universities targeted, though only their conferences are named defendants along with the NCAA because of liability complications at some public institutions.
According to the allegations in the lawsuits, the players sustained concussions in college and now have a variety of health problems including mood swings, depression and sleeplessness.
The NCAA was first sued over concussions in 2011 after a number of similar cases were brought. They were consolidated and in 2014 the NCAA and the plaintiffs reached a settlement. A federal judge out of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois approved to the terms but declined to give the NCAA full immunity from future class-action lawsuits. The judge had one significant caveat: Athletes could still sue their university, conference and the NCAA as a class under certain terms, meaning the NCAA didn’t receive the blanket immunity it sought. The NCAA is still in the stage of finalizing the $75 million settlement.
Chicago attorney Jay Edelson, who is leading this latest effort to sue the NCAA, said 40 to 50 class-action lawsuits will eventually get filed on behalf of tens of thousands of ex-football players. “The goal of the suits is to get people who are injured financial compensation — something that hasn’t happened as of yet,” Edelson told CBS Sports.