Court Preliminarily Approves NCAA Concussions Settlement Providing Medical Monitoring, Improved Approach to Head Injuries, Subject to Modifications
Monumental changes coming to NCAA concussion and head injury prevention
CHICAGO – Attorneys representing NCAA student-athletes today announced the court’s preliminary approval of a settlement that will provide a 50-year medical-monitoring program for student-athletes to screen for and track head injuries; make sweeping changes to the NCAA’s approach to concussion treatment and prevention and establish a $5 million fund for concussion research, according to attorneys at Hagens Berman. The court’s approval is subject to agreement with the NCAA regarding certain modifications.
“This is a historic settlement that will provide certainty, safety and measurable guidelines of player health to an estimated 4.4 million current and former student-athletes,” said Steve Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman and lead attorney representing the class of athletes. “We are pleased with the court’s decision and the changes this litigation will bring to make college sports a safer environment and to hold NCAA-affiliated schools responsible for the potentially life-altering effects of concussions.”
In his order approving the settlement, U.S. District Judge John Z. Lee today stated, “The benefit of the Medical Monitoring Program is the streamlining of a highly specialized and multi-step process necessary to obtain a medical evaluation designed to determine whether a class member is suffering from PCS or CTE… Here, medical experts with specializing expertise in the diagnosis, care, and management of concussions in sport, as well as mid- to late-life neurodegenerative diseases, have created a screening questionnaire specifically designed to determine whether a class member is experiencing neurological symptoms caused by concussions.”
The case involves an estimated 4.4 million current and former athletes in 43 different men’s and women’s sports, and more than a thousand NCAA member institutions, ranging from Division I schools to Division III schools.
The amended settlement agreement includes an expanded group of class representatives, including individuals who played non-contact sports at NCAA-affiliated schools.
The core benefits provided in the settlement include:
- A 50-year medical monitoring program will be overseen by a medical science committee appointed by the court and will screen and track concussions. Examinations will include neurological and neurocognitive assessments to evaluate potential injuries. According to the settlement document, the monitoring program will be funded by a $70 million medical monitoring fund, paid by the NCAA and its insurers. The Court requested and the parties provided the details regarding how written screening will be scored, as well as the scope of the medical evaluations and program locations.
- Significant changes to and enforcement of the NCAA’s concussion management policies and return-to-play guidelines. All players will now receive a seasonal, baseline test to better assess concussions sustained during the season. All athletes who have sustained a concussion will now need to be cleared before returning to play, under the terms of the settlement. Additionally, a medical professional trained in the diagnosis of concussions will be present at all contact-sport games. The settlement also stipulates reporting mandates for concussions and their treatment.
- A separate research component will also be funded through $5 million dedicated by the NCAA to examine the prevention, treatment and effects of concussions.
Read more information about this and other NCAA-related concussion cases brought by Hagens Berman.
About Hagens Berman
Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP is a consumer-rights class-action law firm with offices in 10 cities. The firm has been named to the National Law Journal’s Plaintiffs’ Hot List eight times. More about the law firm and its successes can be found at www.hbsslaw.com. Follow the firm for updates and news at @ClassActionLaw.