NCAA considering settlement of Arrington concussion suit
Settlement would avoid possible class-action status for issue now at the forefront of NCAA concerns.
The NCAA is considering settling a two-year old lawsuit brought by former Eastern Illinois player Adrian Arrington, CBSSports.com has learned.
USA Today first reported the news Monday afternoon.
Arrington, the subject of the kickoff to a series on concussions by CBSSports.com, two years ago sued the NCAA seeking damages because of repeated concussions he suffered while playing. Arrington also suffers from seizures, all since he played at the school.
“While the NCAA continues to believe these allegations are inappropriately made against the NCAA, we are willing to consider reasonable settlement options that address student-athlete health and safety concerns, which has always been our priority," said NCAA spokesman Stacey Osburn.
Arrington and his attorney Joe Siprut had been seeking class certification which could have opened the suit up to hundreds, if not thousands, more plaintiffs. Class certification documents were filed July 19. Arrington is currently joined in the lawsuit by former players from Central Arkansas (football), Ouachita Baptist (women’s soccer) and Maine (men’s hockey).
“A lot of people don’t get the suit,” Siprut told CBSSports.com earlier this month, “[They say], ‘Don’t you know that you can get concussions when you play football?’ Not only do we know it, that’s the point of the whole suit. The question is, do you have procedures in place that are proactive or reactive and they don’t. They don’t really have anything in place.”
Siprut said the basis of the suit is “duty of care”, the concept that the NCAA is responsible for the safety of players who play its sports. Part of the class-action filing includes a 213-page dissertation from leading concussion authority Dr. Robert Cantu.
During discovery for the class action filing, Siprut was able to find a series of embarrassing NCAA emails that purportedly showed the association’s alleged lax attitude toward concussions. In January, the NCAA hired its first chief medical officer, Brain Hainline.
In the first story of that concussion series, Hainline told CBSSports.com that, overall, diagnosis of concussions is “primitive.”
Arrington, 27, is currently on welfare, unable to work because of the seizures.
“Yes, you may get a concussion, but sometimes you don’t remember getting that concussion,” Arrington told CBSSports.com “When you get to that school you’ve got to play like that coach wants you to play or you’re going to get sent home. As student-athlete that doesn’t count for much. I have to do what I have to do is provide for my family in the future.
“I don’t want to work for McDonald’s.”
USA Today reported that a U.S. District Court judge granted a stay in the case on Thursday pending mediation. There is no timetable for settlement talks. There is no dollar figure for damages stated in the suit.
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