clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The NCAA and a bunch of members are looking at new football concussion lawsuits

A new chapter unfolds in the NCAA's legal battle over head trauma, with two schools and several conferences named in lawsuits.

NCAA president Mark Emmert, whose organization faces six new class-action concussion lawsuits.
NCAA president Mark Emmert, whose organization faces six new class-action concussion lawsuits.
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

There's a new series of class-action lawsuits against the NCAA, its conferences and two of its schools over their handling of concussions in college football, according to a report from Jon Solomon of CBS Sports.

Former players for Penn State, Vanderbilt, Georgia, Auburn, Oregon and Utah are suing a blend of the NCAA itself, the leagues they played in and, for two players, their former programs themselves.

Both Penn State and Vanderbilt are named in the new lawsuits, which were respectively filed in federal courts in the Northern District of Illinois and the Middle District of Florida.

The other players are suing only the NCAA and their schools' conferences. That means the Big Ten, SEC, Pac-12 and Western Athletic Conference have lawsuits on their hands. The WAC's involvement is because one plaintiff, former Utah lineman Richard Seals, played in that league in the 1990s, before Utah moved to the Mountain West and then the Pac-12. The WAC no longer sponsors a football league.

The NCAA reached a settlement with former players suing over concussions that ultimately came to a sum of $75 million. The lawyer bringing the case doesn't think that settlement has been sufficient, at least not yet.

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 said.

Three former Penn State players are suing together, according to Solomon: linebacker Eric Ravotti and defensive backs James Boyd and Robert Samuels, who all played in State College between 1988 and 2001. At Vanderbilt, the other university to get defendant standing in one of these cases, the plaintiff is Brandon Walthour, who played linebacker for the Commodores from 1999 to 2002.

The Auburn plaintiff is late-1990s linebacker Joseph Miller. Georgia's is 1980s walk-on defensive end Ronald Hermann. Oregon's is 1970s offensive lineman Daniel Cook.

Concussions have emerged as one of two especially contentious legal terrains for the NCAA, with the other being its long-winding battle over amateurism and the point that it doesn't allow schools to pay players liquid cash.