Two Former Student-Athletes File Class Action Lawsuit Against NCAA
Courtroom attorneys often use neurology expert witnesses to help them make their defense or prosecution case. Indeed, many court decisions have hinged on testimony from specialist witnesses. Neurology experts and other specialists provide jurors with detailed evidence before determining what should happen next.
One recent example is the ongoing concussion lawsuit against the NCAA that alleges they were negligent in managing student-athlete concussions. The NCAA has denied these charges, stating their policies are followed by every school and member of the association while ensuring safe participation for all athletes in any sport through strict adherence to concussion safety protocol. This ongoing litigation will provide an opportunity to demonstrate what expert witness testimony entails during similar neurology-related cases and why it’s so necessary when trying to win such cases!
What is expected of an expert witness?
An expert witness has extensive, specialized knowledge about a given field. Lawyers often recruit expert witnesses for the defense or prosecution to help jurors understand complicated legal topics like evidence and laws. Experts can show all of this information to the courtroom without actually witnessing any crimes themselves.
Neurology expert witnesses
Neurology is a branch of medicine that deals with diagnosing and treating all conditions/diseases involving the nervous system. Neurological expert witnesses are often currently or formerly practiced in some neurology specialty.
Legal teams hire neurological experts who are specialists in injuries and diseases such as:
- Head injuries, traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Headaches and migraines
- Dementia and Alzheimer’s
- Cerebrovascular disorders
- Neurological tumors
- Epilepsy and seizures
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Parkinson’s disease
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
The sample lawsuit–a class action case
This sample lawsuit is a class action, and since it’s still ongoing, there are many speculations about what may happen. These speculations don’t refer to any facts of the case so far; they’re simply meant to illustrate some tactics that legal parties might use in cases involving neurological disease or condition.
The lawsuit’s allegations: Rose et al v. NCAA et al
The case was filed in the U.S. District Court in Illinois against the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) regarding student-athlete concussion injuries. In a class-action lawsuit, the plaintiffs allege that students were allowed to play during unsafe conditions that led to severe concussion injuries to many student-athletes. They further argue that the NCAA and collegiate teams did not enforce or properly administer concussion protocols to mitigate the risk of concussion injury to student-athletes during their NCAA practice and games.
The defendants and their legal team suggest that the NCAA:
- Did not take proper measures to intervene in instances where coaches taught players to use head tackles, which increases concussion risk
- Didn’t establish a proper association-wide system for screening players with suspected concussions or other head injuries
- Deliberately took steps to avoid their financial obligation to student-athletes requiring continued medical care after leaving college
NCAA-previous concussion lawsuit
A settlement was approved on August 13, 2019, that ended the class-action lawsuit, re National Collegiate Athletic Association Student-Athlete Concussion Litigation. The suit alleged that the NCAA had been negligent and breached its duty to protect current and former student-athletes by failing to adopt appropriate rules regarding concussions and/or manage the risks from concussions. The plaintiffs won. The NCAA denied and continues to deny all allegations of liability and wrongdoing but agreed to settle.
NFL concussion lawsuit
For years, the NFL denied that concussions from play were causing brain trauma injuries in players. It wasn’t until 2013 when they agreed to pay $765 million to settle with retired players who brought a suit against them. However, the league didn’t admit any wrongdoing as part of this settlement.
Some background on concussions and CTEs
Concussions are usually caused by a blow to the head or violent shaking of the head or upper body. It’s a traumatic brain injury affecting the way the brain functions. Usually, effects from concussions are temporary. Symptoms can include headaches, memory problems, balance and coordination issues, and more.
CTE, also known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy, is the brain degeneration caused by repeated head trauma in children and young adults. The development of CTE can only be determined during an autopsy. We don’t know a lot about CTE, including how persistent concussion may lead to the disease, including changes in the brain that impact thought, emotions, and various other behaviors or physical problems. There is no cure for it either, but research on this topic has been ongoing for years now, so there are hopes one might come soon enough!
How experts may weigh in on NCAA concussion class action (some examples)
These cases are often settled, so few judicial findings or resolutions are available. But many instances in the past have used negligence as the theory of liability when filing these cases. Both sides will retain expert witnesses to give their opinion on policy adherence. The policy in question here of course, will be the NCAA’s own concussion-safety policy. Various neurology expert witnesses will examine the plaintiffs’ medical records for both sides.
Standard of care questions will likely be discussed. Attorneys for the defense may argue that student-athletes are forced back on the field too soon before adequately healing. Or that NCAA teams have seen student-athletes take repeated blows to the head, both in team practices and on the playing field, yet have sent them back out for more. Also, the plaintiffs will likely argue that those who’ve complained about headaches or other possible symptoms to team doctors or coaching staff are ignored. They’ll also likely argue that concussion evaluations aren’t taken when an injury may have occurred or that these evaluations are improperly administered.
Meanwhile, the defense will likely argue that teams knew about these concussions and were injured. And that headaches may occur for many reasons not related to team practice or play. They’ll also argue that legally, they complied with the NCAA’s concussion policy as currently written.
Diagnoses for concussions are difficult because players themselves may unknowingly ignore or downplay symptoms due to their lack of medical knowledge. It will also be argued that concussions are difficult for teams to diagnose because many of the symptoms—including headache, dizziness, and nausea—cannot be observed by outsiders; the injured individual can only confirm symptoms.
Speak with an expert regarding neurology lawsuits
If you need a neurology expert witness for a lawsuit involving concussion, or other neurological problems, contact one of our neurology expert witnesses. You can also contact our team to initiate a custom search for the perfect expert for many other types of legal cases.