NCAA not liable in widow's $55 million concussion liability suit, jury
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[November 23, 2022]
By Jack Queen
(Reuters) - The National Collegiate Athletic Association on Tuesday
beat a $55 million lawsuit brought by the widow of a former
University Southern California linebacker who said the organization
failed to adequately protect her husband from concussions.
A jury in California state court ruled against Alana Gee on her
claims that the NCAA failed to take reasonable precautions around
concussions and educate players on the dangers of repeated head
collisions. Her husband, Matthew Gee, played at USC from 1988 to
1992 and died in 2018 after allegedly suffering from the brain
condition chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
The landmark case was the first to test whether the NCAA could be
held liable for traumatic brain injuries suffered by players,
The NCAA's senior vice president of legal affairs and general
counsel, Scott Bearby, said in a statement Tuesday that the
organization has a long track record of enhancing player safety.
“The NCAA bore no responsibility for Mr. Gee’s tragic death, and
furthermore, the case was not supported by medical science linking
Mr. Gee’s death to his college football career,” Bearby said.
Alana Gee’s lawyers did not immediately respond to requests for
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The University of Southern California is pictured in Los Angeles,
California, U.S., May 22, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo
Matthew Gee died of a heart attack
brought on by hypertension as well as cocaine and alcohol toxicity,
according to a coroner’s report. Alana Gee's lawyers said his
substance abuse and health problems stemmed from CTE.
Tests of Gee's brain tissue following his death concluded that he
suffered from CTE and that this “likely contributed” to his
cognitive decline, according to Alana Gee's November 2020 lawsuit.
“Had the NCAA disclosed the truth to Matthew Gee, he would have, at
minimum, taken more precautions to protect his head and otherwise
ensure his safety while playing football,” the lawsuit said.
The NCAA’s lawyers argued over the month-long trial in Los Angeles
Superior Court that the organization took reasonable precautions
around head trauma and couldn’t have done anything to prevent Gee’s
death, which they disputed was related to CTE.
(Reporting by Jack Queen; Editing by Leslie Adler)
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