Former UT football players sue NCAA over concussions

Tennessee defensive end Chris Walker (84) tries to tip a pass by UCLA quarterback Kevin Prince (14) on Saturday, September 12, 2009 at Neyland Stadium.

Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess

Tennessee defensive end Chris Walker (84) tries to tip a pass by UCLA quarterback Kevin Prince (14) on Saturday, September 12, 2009 at Neyland Stadium.

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) - Three former college football players are suing the NCAA, saying it failed to educate them about the risks of concussions and did not do enough to prevent, diagnose and treat brain injuries.

Chris Walker and Ben Martin, who played for Tennessee from 2007-2011, and Dan Ahern, who played for North Carolina State from 1972-76, filed a class-action lawsuit in federal court in Chattanooga, Tenn., on Wednesday.

The complaint alleges the NCAA failed to meet its obligation to former players and because of its neglect the players are "suffering the dramatic consequences." The lawsuit seeks an NCAA to fund a medical-monitoring program for former football players.

The lawsuit is similar to one filed in federal court against the NCAA in 2011 in Illinois. Attorneys in that case recently asked a judge to make it a class-action suit.

Last week, the NFL agreed to pay more than three-quarters of a billion dollars to settle lawsuits from thousands of former players who developed dementia or other concussion-related health problems they say were caused by the game.

The Tennessee lawsuit was filed by Washington-based attorney Michael Hausfeld, who is also the lead attorney in the O'Bannon case that is seeking damages from the NCAA for using athletes' images and likenesses to make billions of dollars.

"The NCAA has not taken the necessary steps to protect these former players even though the medical tools to assist them have been available for some time," Hausfeld said. "It is not too late now for the NCAA to offer important education and needed medical testing to these former players."

Walker and Martin were defensive ends for the Volunteers. Walker, who lives in Chattanooga, played 50 games during his career, the last two as a starter. He had 12 career sacks. Martin, who lives in Knoxville, played 45 games and 4.5 sacks. Ahern, who lives in Pensacola, Fla., was an offensive lineman who earned letters for playing in 1974 and '75. None of them played in the NFL.

In the complaint, Walker and Martin claim to have had repetitive head trauma in scrimmages, practices, and games during their careers, and that they now suffer from severe headaches.

Ahern says in the lawsuit that he was flown from Pennsylvania to Raleigh for hospitalization after suffering a concussion in a game against Penn State during his senior year. He also claims to have an inability to concentrate, poor memory, a ringing in his ears, and sleeping problems. He has also suffered physical ailments and pain associated with these ailments leading to retirement at age 50 and disability as of 2007.

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Comments » 16

VolFolks writes:

NCAA Notice to all athletes, coaches & staff, cheerleaders, band members, referees/umpires, volunteers, spectators and any others involved with NCAA events: Participation in or watching NCAA sporting events may be hazardous to your health. Participate at your own discretion and risk.

underthehill writes:

I have long believed players should be given more than just a scholarship when millions are being paid coaches and useless Ath Dept parasites...

namici#1422384 writes:

Look at all this traffic and comments that KNS generated by making this a pay site. NOT!!!

I hope your advertisers are dropping as fast as the online traffic here did!

Orange_Power_T writes:

in response to namici#1422384:

Look at all this traffic and comments that KNS generated by making this a pay site. NOT!!!

I hope your advertisers are dropping as fast as the online traffic here did!

Your copy and paste skills are highly regarded.

crob7x writes:

in response to namici#1422384:

Look at all this traffic and comments that KNS generated by making this a pay site. NOT!!!

I hope your advertisers are dropping as fast as the online traffic here did!

And yet you still add to the post count.

Yes, I'm sure KNS is wringing their hands over all the lost revenue generated by anonymous comments.

Orange_Power_T writes:

Mixed emotions about this. Yes, the NCAA has made a boat-load of money off of collegiate players. Most collegiate players also have an agenda other than wanting to represent their college of choice to play a sport. They are rolling the dice to either A) get their education paid or B) the farm league for the pro's. Thse guys should have known there are risks involved with both. I suffered 2 concussions playing football in high school, and the mentality back then was shake off the headache and get back in there. I remember a team mate dislocating his shoulder and the coach popping it back in and my bud returning to the game. It was a different time- I get it. Still, to say someone didn't make you aware enough of the risks or for your care is a bit hard to swallow. I feel for these guys, but I'm pretty sure they were smart enough to know what they were getting into. Don't agree with the lawsuits.

TheBigDirty writes:

Can we sue them and get whatever we spent on their scholarship/impermissible benefits back?

Dudes were terrible.

ArmyDad writes:

The next great money grab.

Please. Claiming that you weren't warned of potential injuries is just plain absurd.

wigmeister writes:

in response to namici#1422384:

Look at all this traffic and comments that KNS generated by making this a pay site. NOT!!!

I hope your advertisers are dropping as fast as the online traffic here did!

IDIOT

TommyJack writes:

Shakespeare had it right.

Snapshot writes:

in response to namici#1422384:

Look at all this traffic and comments that KNS generated by making this a pay site. NOT!!!

I hope your advertisers are dropping as fast as the online traffic here did!

Somebody get this baby a bottle so he will stop crying.

gc_scvol writes:

in response to namici#1422384:

Look at all this traffic and comments that KNS generated by making this a pay site. NOT!!!

I hope your advertisers are dropping as fast as the online traffic here did!

Here's a thought; Don't read it.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to Orange_Power_T:

Mixed emotions about this. Yes, the NCAA has made a boat-load of money off of collegiate players. Most collegiate players also have an agenda other than wanting to represent their college of choice to play a sport. They are rolling the dice to either A) get their education paid or B) the farm league for the pro's. Thse guys should have known there are risks involved with both. I suffered 2 concussions playing football in high school, and the mentality back then was shake off the headache and get back in there. I remember a team mate dislocating his shoulder and the coach popping it back in and my bud returning to the game. It was a different time- I get it. Still, to say someone didn't make you aware enough of the risks or for your care is a bit hard to swallow. I feel for these guys, but I'm pretty sure they were smart enough to know what they were getting into. Don't agree with the lawsuits.

Well, you must admit that people who grew up in the era when attitudes like you described were common and when every TV or movie action hero got knocked out a couple times an hour with no apparent ill effects might not have appreciated the long-term impact of repeated concussions. Today's players might have less excuse for ignoring those effects, but in any generation, many young men have a need to prove themselves physically and tend to disregard what they see as the overly-solicitous attempts of adults to "protect" them from themselves. Look at how many teenagers are STILL killed every day in car wrecks because they didn't wear seat belts despite laws, drivers-ed classes, and ALL the voluminous publicity such deaths bring about.

pcshowtime writes:

It may look like a money grab until it hits your family. My uncle played at Trousdale County High School Hartsville TN started all four years offensive line and defensive line. Then went to University of Louisville started OL his last 3yrs of eligibility. This was in the 70S. Now he suffers from Frontal lobe damage early onset dementia. It will eventually take his life. In the 1970s and 1980s there were no concussion evaluations. I do believe now they are made aware of the risks but in that time if they were conscious they played. Although I will say this we never thought to sue anyone.

johnlg00 writes:

To complete my thought above, teenagers who drive recklessly and don't wear seat belts are the reason why the ones who drive safely and DO wear seat belts still have to pay exorbitant insurance rates. It is the reason why rodeo cowboys, skydivers, deep-sea/scuba divers, and pro skiers either have to pay high insurance rates or can't be insured at all. I know this goes against the currently fashionable neo-retro machoism in some segments of society, but it doesn't alter the fact that some forms of activity are just too dangerous for people to engage in regularly without considering ALL the possible negative effects, and football may soon be judged as another one of those activities.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to pcshowtime:

It may look like a money grab until it hits your family. My uncle played at Trousdale County High School Hartsville TN started all four years offensive line and defensive line. Then went to University of Louisville started OL his last 3yrs of eligibility. This was in the 70S. Now he suffers from Frontal lobe damage early onset dementia. It will eventually take his life. In the 1970s and 1980s there were no concussion evaluations. I do believe now they are made aware of the risks but in that time if they were conscious they played. Although I will say this we never thought to sue anyone.

Thanks for that story. As to your last sentence, there was no thought of suing anybody because each such occurrence was thought to be "just one of those things". It was simply not known then that people can suffer permanent injuries even from the "routine" bashing-about that one suffers playing a sport like football over a period of time. Of course, this IS a much more litigious society than it was in the past, but that is another story altogether.

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