Judge approves reworked NCAA head-injury settlement – Details

Judge approves reworked NCAA head-injury settlement - Details

A federal judge in Chicago has given preliminary approval to a reworked head-injury settlement between former college athletes and the NCAA.

The agreement, which still needs NCAA approval, does not contain cash settlements for the plaintiffs in the proposed class-action suit, but mandates a new national protocol for head injuries sustained by players. Individual athletes can still bring their own suits.

The proposed settlement, which was first submitted in July 2014, calls for a $70 million monitoring fund for former athletes, which would allow them the opportunity to receive a neurological screening to examine brain functions and any signs of brain damage like chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease. Under the settlement, the NCAA also would prevent athletes who have sustained a concussion from returning to a game or practice that day.

U.S. District Court Judge John Lee did request one notable change from the original settlement: that the NCAA not have complete immunity against class-action concussion litigation. Lee’s terms for approval include a provision that would allow athletes at a particular college to sue their university and the NCAA as a class.

“After all the wait we’ve basically got 96 percent of what we expected to get,” said Steve Berman, the lead counsel for the plaintiffs. “It’s understandable with a settlement this big, there could be some tweaking, but we’re happy with the result.”

Adrian Arrington, a former football player at Eastern Illinois University, was the first to sue the NCAA over concussions in 2011, claiming negligence related to the handling of several head injuries he sustained in his career. Several similar cases were filed and then consolidated. Arrington announced that he opposed the proposed settlement last year, arguing that individual athletes should receive compensation.

Sportact Editors and Wire Services