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September 11, 2013

Concussion Lawsuits Filed Against NCAA

Three former college athletes have filed a lawsuit against the NCAA. They say the league failed to educate football players about the risks of head injuries. In addition to financial compensation, the players are asking the NCAA to fund a medical monitoring program to help with lifelong effects of brain injury.

Members of the class-action suit say they are at risk of developing neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and dementia.

This is the second attempt at a class-action concussion suit against the NCAA. The first suit was filed in 2011 and involves former football, hockey, and soccer players. It is currently in settlement talks.

The legal action against the NCAA has struck a chord with the Plevretes family. The parents of Preston Plevretes have been dealing with the loss of their son’s livelihood after back-to-back concussions nearly took his life in 2005.

Preston PlevretesPreston was a victim of second impact syndrome. He suffered a concussion in practice and was cleared to play two weeks later despite ongoing symptoms. He spent three months in a coma and seven months in hospital. Today he can barely speak and needs around-the-clock assistance.

The Plevretes family sued the university for negligence and accepted a $7.5 million settlement in 2009. They hoped Preston’s case would establish national guidelines for treating concussed athletes. But the recent lawsuits against the NCAA suggest there’s a lot more work to be done to establish protocols to prevent, diagnose, monitor, and treat brain injuries.

“I’m so disappointed and sad,” said Tammy Plevretes. “The NCAA did the right thing when Preston was hurt, and made those changes. But then it didn’t follow through.”

The NCAA says student athlete health and safety concerns have always been their priority.

Many wonder what the effects of the NFL’s recent $765 million settlement may be on the legal action against the NCAA. Some think it is in a more vulnerable position than the NFL. As Fox Sports writes, the NCAA athletes “represent a gathering hurricane of litigation that could dwarf what the NFL faced. The 4,500 pros who sued [the NFL] had a union supposedly looking out for them. College players had their schools and their governing body.”

The fight to build greater awareness and protocol around brain injury in sport continues. Tammy Plevretes will continue to share her son’s story. “Preston is the face of what could happen if you don’t take care of a concussion.”

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