Two separate class-action lawsuits have been filed against the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and Riddell, a company that manufactures football helmets. Both lawsuits allege that the defendants failed to protect college football players from head injuries and that they failed to provide education to the players regarding the risks of those potential head injuries.
These are not the first college football class-action concussion lawsuits to be filed. Last year, there were over 40 class-action lawsuits filed by a Chicago-based law firm. Prior to that filing, a judge had ruled that just one large class-action concussion lawsuit against the NCAA would not be allowed.
The lawsuit against the NCAA was filed by five former college football players and also names the Big 12 Conference as a co-defendant. The Texas law firm handling that suit said it would be filing more lawsuits that would include other college conferences as defendants.
The NCAA lawsuit alleges that the two organizations named as defendants “breached their duty” by failing to ensure a safe environment for the players. The defendants are also accused of failing to alert players to the long-term risks that accompany repeated concussive and sub-concussive hits.
The former players also accuse the defendants of a failure to provide players with proper education regarding prevention of head injuries.
They are also accused of taking too long in implementing rules of play that help decrease the number of head injuries and implementing rules that determine how long a player needs to wait to play again after they have sustained a concussion or other head injury.
The lawsuit also alleges that the NCAA and Big 12 failed to cover the cost of injured players’ post-collegiate medical expenses which were a result of the “defendants’ bad acts.”
The second class-action concussion lawsuit, filed against Riddell, accuses the helmet manufacturer of misrepresenting the degree of safety their helmets provided.
The company is accused of using a scientific study in their marketing – a study that Riddell funded – which claimed the Riddell helmets provided a significant decrease in concussion risks compared to other helmets on the market.
The plaintiffs in the Riddell lawsuit are former high school and college football who suffered from traumatic brain injuries caused by either multiple concussions or other hits to the head that occurred while they were playing football.
In a statement released to the Associate Press, the company lamented what they called “overt lawyer self-promotion and meritless litigation.”
The statement went on to claim that these class-action concussion lawsuits only serve to hurt the game of football by sensationalizing these types of claims to the detriment of all the people who actually benefit from the sport.
When asked his thoughts on these two new lawsuits, personal injury lawyer John Yannone commented, “Just as in the class-action brain injury lawsuits filed against the NFL and other professional sports organizations, it is critical that collegiate sports organizations and sports equipment manufacturers are held accountable in order to protect the young people who participate in these sports.”