College sports teams are watching what happens next, now that former football players suffering brain damage have begun suing the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) for not warning players about the associated risks of concussions that appear to be inherent in the sport. Legal experts believe new cases will be setting a precedent on the responsibility the Association holds and any potential change that might be required for college football players.
The first case that went to trial in June 2018 involved a former Division I college football player’s widow Deb Hardin-Ploetz who filed a lawsuit seeking $1 million in damages against the NCAA in 2017. The plaintiff claims that the Association ignored the warning signs associated with repeated head trauma that likely caused her husband’s early demise and blames NCAA for negligence and wrongful death. Court filings show that the NCAA countered the plaintiff’s allegations by responding that her husband “voluntarily participated in the activity of playing football and accordingly assumed the risk of injury.”
While many concussion-related cases have been filed against the Association before, all of them had been dismissed, settled out of court, or put on hold while working out legal disputes. Finally, decades after the first cases were filed, there would be a case in court to show evidence to a jury that might find in in the plaintiff’s favor if they determined that the Association was at fault for the death of her husband Greg; whom played defensive tackle and linebacker positions for the University of Texas over five decades ago. Ploetz graduated from college in 1975 with a Master of Fine Arts Degree and went on to become a high school and college art teacher. However, his condition became so severe that he stopped teaching a decade ago and passed away from the long-term effects of his illness on March 11, 2015, at 66 years old.