Concussion lawsuit against NCAA could be first to reach jury

LOS ANGELES– A lawsuit declaring the NCAA stopped working to safeguard a previous USC football gamer from duplicated concussions is nearing trial in a Los Angeles court, with a jury seated Thursday in what could end up being a landmark case.

The fit submitted by Matthew Gee’s widow states the previous USC linebacker passed away in 2018 from long-term mental retardation brought on by numerous blows to the head he took while betting the 1990 Rose Bowl-winning group, which had a lineup that likewise consisted of future NFL star Junior Seau.

Of the numerous wrongful death and injury claims brought by college football gamers against the NCAA in the previous years, Gee’s is just the 2nd to head towards trial and could be the first to reach a jury.

The problem of concussions in sports, and in football in specific, has actually been front and center in the last few years as research study has actually found more about long-lasting results of repetitive head injury in issues varying from headaches to anxiety and, often, early start Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s illness.

” For many years [the NCAA] has actually kept gamers like Matthew Gee and the general public in the dark about an epidemic that was gradually eliminating college professional athletes,” Alana Gee’s lawsuit stated. “Long after they played their last video game, they are entrusted to a series of neurological conditions that could gradually strangle their brains.”

The NCAA, the governing body of college sports, stated it wasn’t accountable for Gee’s terrible death, which it blamed on heavy drinking, drugs and other conditions.

” Mr. Gee utilized alcohol and drugs to manage a terrible youth, to fill in the loss of identity he felt after his football playing days ended, and to numb the persistent and increasing discomfort brought on by many health concerns,” NCAA legal representatives composed in a court filing.

A 2018 trial in Texas led to a speedy settlement after numerous days of statement by witnesses for the complainant, the widow of Greg Ploetz, who played defense for Texas in the late 1960s.

In 2016, the NCAA concurred to settle a class-action concussion lawsuit, paying $70 million to keep an eye on the medical conditions of previous college professional athletes, another $5 million towards medical research study and payments up to $5,000 towards private gamers declaring injuries.

The NFL has actually been struck with comparable matches and ultimately concurred to a settlement covering 20,000 retired gamers supplying up to $4 million for a death including persistent terrible encephalopathy, likewise called CTE, a degenerative brain illness discovered in professional athletes and military veterans who suffered repeated brain injuries.

Attorneys stated they anticipated NFL payments to leading $1.4 billion over 65 years for 6 certifying conditions, consisting of Alzheimer’s illness, Parkinson’s illness and dementia.

Gee, 49, was among 5 linebackers on the 1989 Trojans team who passed away prior to turning 50. Just like Seau, who eliminated himself in 2012, Gee’s brain was taken a look at posthumously and discovered to have CTE.

The defense has actually looked for to leave out any statement about Gee’s colleagues, and the NCAA stated there was no medical proof Gee struggled with concussions at USC.

2 ex-teammates, nevertheless, affirmed at depositions about blows they regularly took in an age when they were informed to struck with their heads.

Mike Salmon, who played defense at USC and went on to the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers and Buffalo Expenses, stated he definitely remembered Gee and other linebackers being “out of it” throughout compelling practices.

” Matt struck like a truck,” Salmon stated. “I saw him a fair bit returning to the huddle. You could inform … he wasn’t all there.”

Affirmed previous USC nose deal with Gene Fruge: “It was our task to make helmet-to- helmet contact in the ’80s. There was no concern about it. That was your task, to take off the male in front of you.”

The NCAA, which in 2010 needed schools to have a concussion procedure, stated it provided “modern” info about head injury threats understood at the time Gee played. It stated long-lasting results of head injuries weren’t well comprehended then.

Gee’s lawsuit stated the devastating results of concussions and other terrible brain effects have actually been understood for about a century, first from research studies of “punch intoxicated” fighters and later on from findings in football and other contact sports.

” The NCAA understood of the hazardous results … on professional athletes for years, they neglected these truths and stopped working to institute any significant approaches of caution and/or safeguarding the professional athletes,” the lawsuit stated. “For the NCAA, the ongoing growth and operation of college football was merely too rewarding to threatened.”

After finishing in 1992, Gee was cut by the Raiders in training school. He wed Alana, his college sweetie, and they had 3 kids as he ran his own insurance provider in Southern California. For twenty years, he lived a “reasonably typical” life, the fit stated.

However that started to alter around 2013, when he started to lose control of his feelings, the lawsuit stated. He blew up, baffled and depressed. He consumed greatly. He informed a physician days would pass without him being able to remember what occurred.

When he passed away on New Year’s Eve 2018, the initial cause of death was noted as the combined hazardous results of alcohol and drug with other substantial conditions of heart disease, cirrhosis and weight problems.

Joseph Low, a Los Angeles attorney for customers with terrible brain injury who is not associated with the case, stated alcohol and drug abuse can end up being a sign of brain injuries as those suffering shot to self-medicate, especially as they degrade.

Blaming Gee’s death on drug abuse will not protect the NCAA from proof revealing he had CTE, which is not brought on by alcohol and drugs, Low stated.

” The entire conversation about alcohol and drugs isn’t going to get it provided for them. That’s a diversion,” Low stated. “It’s actually a horrible method to do character assassination. It’s what you call defense method 101.”

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