Attorneys representing NCAA student-athletes today filed a proposed 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 Sobol Shapiro.
The settlement has been reached in agreement with the NCAA and has been filed with U.S. District Judge John Z. Lee. The parties are currently seeking preliminary approval of the settlement so that notice can be sent to class members and a final approval hearing can be scheduled.
“For years, we have witnessed the significant impact that concussions have had on student-athletes and are gratified to reach such a significant settlement that will provide certainty, safety and measurable guidelines of player health,” said Steve Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman and lead attorney representing the class of athletes. “We believe that the relief provided by this settlement is a major accomplishment in ensuring the safety of student-athletes.”
The proposed class includes all NCAA student-athletes.
“Much attention has been paid to concussions in football, but this settlement protects student-athletes in all sports,” Berman added. “The NCAA has observed significant concussions in soccer, hockey and lacrosse, and all contact sports will be protected by this settlement.”
The settlement comes in light of the suit’s allegations that the NCAA has failed to uphold safety standards, putting the health and safety of its student-athletes at risk for years, by failing to enforce concussion-management policies and return-to-play guidelines.
“Th settlement does not preclude players from filing individual suits against the NCAA for their injuries, which is huge for student-athletes,” Berman said. “This stipulation coupled with regular player health examinations provided by the medical monitoring program will benefit any players that choose to act individually in future actions.”
Benefit provided in the settlement consists of the four major areas:
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 neuropsychological 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.
A separate research component will also be funded through $5 million dedicated by the NCAA and its members to examine the prevention, treatment and effects of concussions.
A proviso allowing players the ability to individually sue the NCAA for injuries, retaining any state law rights.
Significant changes to 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 by a physician 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.