published Wednesday, September 4th, 2013

Ex-Vols sue NCAA over head injuries

  • photo
    University of Tennessee defensive end Ben Martin poses on the field during University of Tennessee media day at Neyland Stadium in this file photo.
    Photo by Patrick Smith /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

NCAA response

In a statement, NCAA chief legal officer Donald Remy said the organization has not been served with the complaint, but said officials will “review and evaluate it.”

“It appears that it has been filed by one of the same law firms that appears in many other cases. It is not unusual to see this action from plaintiff’s attorneys trying to secure a lead position in litigation of similar cases.”

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Two former University of Tennessee football players filed a class-action lawsuit today claiming the NCAA knew about but ignored the long-term damage — from disc damage to dementia — possible from repeated head injuries and concussions.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Chattanooga, comes a week after NFL agreed to pay $750 million to settle similar claims filed by pro football players.

The UT players are former defensive ends Chris Walker and Ben Martin, who both played from 2007-2011. A third plaintiff, Dan Ahern, played for North Carolina State University from 1972-76.

According to the complaint, “The NCAA has know or should have known for many years” that football players who sustain repetitive head impacts are subject conditions including “early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, depression, deficits in cognitive functioning, reduced processing speed, attention and reasoning, loss of memory, sleeplessness, mood swings, personality changes” and more.

The lawsuit charges the National Collegiate Athletic Association with gross negligence and breach of contract for failing to educate and protect student athletes from the dangers of head trauma.

The complaint asks that all former NCAA players living in the United States who did not go on to play professional ball in the NFL be included in the class.

Walker, Martin and Ahern ask the court to certify the class and grant an injunction forcing the NCAA to set up and pay for comprehensive medical monitoring “for lifelong risks of brain injury.”

See Thursday’s Times Free Press for complete coverage.

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