September 4, 2013

Former football players sue NCAA over concussions

The class-action suit alleges that the NCAA did not do enough to prevent, diagnose and treat brain injuries among college football players.

The Associated Press

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — Three former college football players are suing the NCAA, saying it failed to educate them about the risks of concussions and did not do enough to prevent, diagnose and treat brain injuries.

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FILE - In this July 23, 2010 file photo, Tennessee defensive end Chris Walker talks to the media during the Southeastern Conference football media days in Hoover, Ala. Three former college football players are suing the NCAA, saying it failed to educate them about the risks of concussions and did not do enough to prevent, diagnose and treat brain injuries. Walker and Ben Martin, who played for Tennessee from 2007-2011, and Dan Ahern, who played for North Carolina State from 1972-76, filed a class-action lawsuit in federal court in Chattanooga, Tenn., on Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013. (AP Photo/ Butch Dill, File)

AP

Chris Walker and Ben Martin, who played for Tennessee from 2007-2011, and Dan Ahern, who played for North Carolina State from 1972-76, filed a class-action lawsuit in federal court in Chattanooga, Tenn., on Wednesday.

The complaint alleges the NCAA failed to meet its obligation to former players and because of its neglect the players are "suffering the dramatic consequences." The lawsuit seeks an NCAA to fund a medical-monitoring program for former football players.

The lawsuit is similar to one filed in federal court against the NCAA in 2011 in Illinois. Attorneys in that case recently asked a judge to make it a class-action suit.

NCAA chief legal officer Donald Remy said the NCAA has not yet had the opportunity to review and evaluate the lawsuit.

Last week, the NFL agreed to pay more than three-quarters of a billion dollars to settle lawsuits from thousands of former players who developed dementia or other concussion-related health problems they say were caused by the game.

The Tennessee lawsuit was filed by Washington-based attorney Michael Hausfeld, who is also the lead attorney in the O'Bannon case that is seeking damages from the NCAA for using athletes' images and likenesses to make billions of dollars.

"The NCAA has not taken the necessary steps to protect these former players even though the medical tools to assist them have been available for some time," Hausfeld said. "It is not too late now for the NCAA to offer important education and needed medical testing to these former players."

Walker and Martin were defensive ends for the Volunteers. Walker, who lives in Chattanooga, played 50 games during his career, the last two as a starter. He had 12 career sacks. Martin, who lives in Knoxville, played 45 games and 4.5 sacks. Ahern, who lives in Pensacola, Fla., was an offensive lineman who earned letters for playing in 1974 and '75. None of them played in the NFL.

In the complaint, Walker and Martin claim to have had repetitive head trauma in scrimmages, practices, and games during their careers, and that they now suffer from severe headaches.

Ahern says in the lawsuit that he was flown from Pennsylvania to Raleigh for hospitalization after suffering a concussion in a game against Penn State during his senior year. He also claims to have an inability to concentrate, poor memory, a ringing in his ears, and sleeping problems. He has also suffered physical ailments and pain associated with these ailments leading to retirement at age 50 and disability as of 2007.

 

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