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Discovery Continues In Ploetz v. NCAA CTE Lawsuit

Although the NCAA might have won the right to restrict the scope of the discovery, a significant portion of the discovery will proceed unaffected in the case of Ploetz v. NCAA. The case argues that the NCAA is liable in the CTE-related death of former NCAA athlete, Greg Ploetz. Ploetz v. NCAA is one of the first CTE case to go to trial.

On March 1st, justices in the Texas Fifth Court of Appeals issued orders to the trial court to grant part of the NCAA’s request for a writ of mandamus. A prior discovery order from July of 2017 required the NCAA to produce all documents related to head trauma sustained by any athlete in any sport, starting from 1950 all the way to the present. The NCAA argued that the scope of the discovery was too broad and sought to limit the discovery to the time period for when Greg Ploetz was an NCAA athlete (1968-1972), to the sport he played (American football), and the specific disorder he was diagnosed with postmortem (chronic traumatic encephalopathy).

Most of the pertinent factors in the petition filed by the NCAA was denied by the Fifth Circuit. The July 2017 discovery order will dictate the time frame and broad variety of sports included in the case.
A stay of the deposition that was filed by NCAA’s medical director Dr. Brian Hartline was also lifted. However, the NCAA was granted partial relief and will be able to exclude documents from discovery that could reveal potential injuries that are not caused by blows to the head.

The trial will proceed in April after discovery. Speaking with Advocacy for Fairness in Sports, attorney Gene Edgorf said, “We are very pleased with the court’s rulings and very much look forward to this case going to trial in April.”

The case has the potential to set the limitations of liability for entities in industries where CTE is likely to be suffered by their employees. This will be the first time that a court will look at the total knowledge made available in past decades about repetitive blows to the head and the connection to CTE. The court will make a decision on if the NCAA should have not only been aware of CTE risks, but should have communicated its awareness to employees as well.

The case can also possibly uncover new information about the NCAA’s knowledge and practices in regards to head trauma in the last 67 years. The fallout from these revelations can end up casting the NCAA in an unfavorable light and might cause a public relations frenzy.

The possibility of a public relations nightmare might be enough to motivate the NCAA to offer a settlement to Greg Ploetz’ widow, Debbie Ploetz. Although the lawsuit against the NFL only tiptoed around CTE in its settlement, the case against the NCAA takes on CTE directly.

To learn more about this and other CTE cases against the NCAA, contact our team of NCAA concussion attorneys today. We take on CTE and sport concussion cases across the nation.


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