Judge delays decision on NCAA concussion settlement

April 20, 2015

A U.S. judge has declined to immediately approve the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s $75 million settlement of a lawsuit by college athletes who’ve suffered head injuries, giving a critic of the accord three weeks to file arguments opposing the revamped deal.

U.S. District Judge John Z. Lee in Chicago scheduled another hearing for June 11 after Jay Edelson, a lawyer who successfully objected to an earlier version of the deal, said the revised proposal is no better because it doesn’t compensate hurt players.

It’s “a smoke-screen settlement,” Edelson said outside of court after Friday’s hearing ended.

The settlement includes $70 million to fund 50 years of medical monitoring for any athlete who’s played contact or non-contact college sports and $5 million for concussion-related research. The NCAA, which is based in Indianapolis, has also agreed to change universities’ concussion-management and return-to-play policies.

In return, the NCAA and its member schools would be released from further class-action claims by students who’ve played sports. Numerous lawsuits have been filed against the NCAA by athletes suffering head trauma.

Lee in December refused to approve the first version of the settlement, citing concerns including the sufficiency of the monitoring fund. In court, Edelson told the judge the new accord would preclude athletes who suffered bodily injuries from suing, potentially saving the NCAA billions of dollars.

Seattle attorney Steve Berman, who represents the plaintiffs, disputed that. Outside of court, he said Edelson’s argument was “utter nonsense” and said athletes could raise bodily-injury claims on a person-by-person basis, rather than as a group.

The court fight comes as the National Football League in a separate case seeks a Philadelphia judge’s approval of a $765 million accord to resolve head-injury lawsuits. The National Hockey League last month lost a bid for dismissal of concussion- related cases filed against it.



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