University Settles Football Concussion Lawsuits for $712,500

by | May 23, 2016

Bowling Green State University will pay $712,500 to settle claims made by a former football player who alleged the school’s football staff failed to remove him from practice after he suffered multiple concussions. Cody Silk, an offensive lineman, alleged that the Ohio-based university’s medical staff and coaches negligently failed to diagnose two concussions and allowed him to participate in full-contact practice, when he suffered a third concussion. After the third concussion, Silk was medically disqualified from the Falcons football during his freshman year and eventually lost his scholarship.

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The recent settlement, which the Ohio Court of Claims approved, brings to a close Silk’s lawsuit, which he originally initiated in 2012. The court had initially rejected Silk’s claims because he signed a liability release with the school prior to playing on the football team. The school argued Silk assumed the risk of suffering debilitating traumatic brain injuries. Silk’s attorneys filed a motion to reconsider this ruling, arguing that the liability release document did not cover “wanton and willful misconduct.”

Judge Patrick McGrath granted Silk’s motion to reconsider, which provided Silk with the opportunity to submit evidence that BGSU’s behavior rose to the level of “wanton and willful” and, alternatively, that the release was prohibited by public policy.

In preparation for trial, Dr. Robert Cantu evaluated Silk. Dr. Cantu was deposed and testified that, in his opinion, Silk suffers permanent post-concussive syndrome because of BGSU’s negligent conduct. Dr. Cantu is a senior advisor for the NFL’s Head, Neck, and Spine Committee and also a co-director at Boston University’s Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy.

After being cut from the football team, Silk attempted to continue his education. Because of cognitive problems caused by the concussions, Silk was unable to complete his education. At times, Silk could not even remember his name or where he parked his car. According to his allegations against the school, the concussions still cause Silk to suffer from migraines, anxiety, depression, and causes difficulty sleeping.

Silk’s case demonstrates that sports participants who suffer avoidable brain injuries have valid claims against institutions and organizations that could have prevented these injuries. At Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C., our team of attorneys and legal professionals have extensive experience representing victims of brain injuries. Partner Ira Sherman is a member of the Board of Directors for the Brain Injury Association of America and an active member of the Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group of the American Association for Justice. Partner Joseph Cammarata drafted legislation – the DC Youth Athletic Concussion Protection Act – to better protect young players from brain injuries, which became law in the District of Columbia in 2011. Sherman and Cammarata formed the Brain Injury Association of DC to provide resources and help for those impacted by brain injuries. In addition to these activities, our law firm has also established a track record of securing notable verdicts and settlements on behalf of brain injury victims.

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