NCAA Settles Widow of Football Player's CTE Lawsuit

Football Player Injured On The Field

After only two and a half days of courtroom trial, the National Collegiate Athletic Association has settled a lawsuit brought by the widow of a former University of Texas football player. Plaintiff Debra Hardin-Ploetz along with her attorneys from Shrader & Associates, LLP, filed the suit alleging the NCAA had failed to properly warn her husband about the risks of repeated head trauma, thus neglecting the duty they had to protect their student athletes. The amount of the settlement was not disclosed.

Her late husband, Greg Ploetz, passed away in 2016 at the age of 66 and was found posthumously to have suffered from CTE. Ploetz was a member of the University of Texas football team in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

The skilled legal team from Shrader & Associates, LLP came out with an aggressive strategy right from the start, arguing during their opening statements that there was scientific evidence to show the link between head trauma and CTE symptoms that the NCAA should have known about as far back as the 1930s. As a result, the NCAA placed profits ahead of the safety of its athletes, argued Ellen Staurowsky of Drexel University, one of the first witnesses that the plaintiff used in the case.

Many people feel as though this case will serve as a bellweather for future similar suits, as many players from around the same era are beginning to see the complications and effects of CTE in their lives. Even today there are plenty of suits waiting to hold either a football conference or the NCAA itself liable for the damages they have suffered.

And it’s not the first lawsuit of its kind brought against the largest collegiate athletics governing body in the country, either. Back in 2014, the NCAA agreed to provide a $70 million fund to settle the massive multi-district concussion litigation suits that other former athletes had brought. That suit essentially closed the possibility for a class-action suit, but does enable individual members of that class to file claims against the NCAA and their schools for the damages they have suffered.

Some feel as though the NCAA’s decision to simply settle the case and put the litigation in this instance to a stop prevents the findings from being used in later cases, thus eliminating the NCAA’s ability to litigate the findings in future suits.

The NCAA’s chief legal officer Donald Remy stated that the settlement “gives all parties the opportunity to resolve the case outside of a lengthy trial. The NCAA does not admit liability as part of the settlement. We will continue to defend the association vigorously in all jurisdictions where similar unwarranted individual cases are pursued. It is our hope that other plaintiffs’ lawyers recognize that this is one settlement in one case.”

However the attorneys from Shrader & Associates, LLP countered that statement by saying the NCAA could have atoned for misleading the American public for decades by simply admitting that head trauma causes CTE.

The case is also likely to have ramifications across hundreds of other head injury cases, both against the NCAA and the NFL, which is also dealing with its own fair share of suits. However, the NFL successfully pursued a larger settlement agreement, whereas the NCAA seems to be interested in fighting each and every one of them individually.

What Does This Mean For My Case?

If you’re a former NCAA athlete who suffered a concussion or other form of brain injury while taking part in your sport, we recognize the importance of knowing your rights. While you may not be experiencing any symptoms yet, there is an abundance of scientific evidence to support the fact that concussions and other brain injuries increase the chances of CTE and immense complications later in life, and the NCAA as well as your sport’s governing body had a duty to inform and protect you from that risk.

Call Shrader & Associates today at (877) 958-7920 to request a case evaluation and speak with us further to learn more about your rights as a former student athlete.
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