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NCAA, concussion plaintiffs go to mediation in landmark case

The NCAA and plaintiffs' lawyers in a landmark concussion lawsuit met with a mediator on Friday, CBSSports.com has learned.

Former Eastern Illinois defensive back Adrian Arrington and four other former NCAA athletes sued the association in September 2011. The basis of the suit is a “duty of care” that Arrington says is owed to players by the NCAA. The suit seeks unspecified monetary damages and a series of reforms by the NCAA.

Specifics of the mediation were not available. The sides are bound by a confidentiality agreement.

CBSSports.com reported in September the sides would meet Nov. 1. Citing court documents, the Birmingham News reported earlier that the sides were scheduled for a November mediation.

Head trauma is at or near the top of the list of concerns both with the NCAA and in college athletics. The NCAA's chief medical officer told CBSSports.com in the summer that as a whole, the medical community is in the “primitive” stage of head trauma diagnosis management.

Since that statement, the NFL has agreed to pay $765 million to more than 18,000 former NFL players to settle a lawsuit in September.

If the two sides in this case agree on a settlement, a final resolution and possible distribution of funds could take months.

“If we're able to settle the case in November and get this through [it] would change the game forever,” plaintiffs' attorney Joseph Siprut told CBSSports.com in September.

A second set of plaintiffs suing the NCAA will go before a mediator Feb. 18, according to the Birmingham News.

Such settlements could largely end near-term legal challenges to the NCAA over the issue. If the case is certified a class action -- as the Arrington plaintiffs are seeking -- any future action would have to come from individuals bearing the financial burden of filing such suits.

The NCAA's case in Arrington was harmed when a series of damaging emails and information surfaced during the plaintiffs' filing for the class-action status.

The location of the Arrington mediation was not specified. Former federal judge Layn Phillips was expected to preside over the meeting. Phillips was the court-appointed mediator in the NFL case.

Anyone in need of a credential from all the BCS title games? Dennis Dodd has them. In three decades in the business, he's covered everything from the Olympics to Stanley Cup to conference realignment. Just get him on campus in a press box in the fall. His heart lies with college football.
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