NCAA’s $75 Million Athlete Head Injury Accord Moves Ahead

  • U.S. judge wants modifications before approving settlement
  • Critics claimed medical monitoring funds are insufficient

The National Collegiate Athletic Association’s $75 million settlement of a lawsuit by college athletes who’ve suffered head injuries moved closer to winning court approval.

A federal judge in Chicago said Tuesday he’ll give the accord preliminary approval once both sides sign off on some modifications they previously accepted. The agreement calls for $70 million medical monitoring program over 50 years, plus $5 million for concussion research and attorney fees.

U.S. District Judge John Z. Lee said in his order that a provision waiving the right of athletes to pursue group status for personal injury claims must be narrowed to win approval. He also said winning class-action certification for such injuries would be difficult.

Steve Berman, lead attorney for the athletes, said he and his clients are pleased with the judge’s order, which he described as being 95 percent of what the parties previously agreed to.

“I think it’s a great thing,” Berman said in a phone interview. “Medical monitoring, the judge found, was needed and would be beneficial to the class. The rule changes, which will protect kids in all sports, are needed and will improve the health of student athletes.”

Mark Mester, an attorney for the NCAA, didn’t immediately respond to phone and e-mail messages seeking comment on the order.

The case is In re: National Collegiate Athletic Association Student Athlete Concussion Litigation, MDL 2492, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois (Chicago).

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