Watered-down settlement reached in NCAA concussion suit

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NCAA football players get far less compensation than their professional counterparts.  That same dynamic will apply to their respective concussion lawsuits, at least for now.

Via the Associated Press, a pending college football class action has resulted in a settlement.  But the settlement won’t actually pay any benefits.  Instead, it will establish a $70 million fund for testing current and former college athletes for brain injuries.

The lawsuit also creates a uniform policy for returning to play, and it makes baseline neurological testing mandatory.  And, of course, it will pay the lawyers a nice chunk of change.

The class covers all male and female football, ice hockey, soccer, basketball, wrestling, field hockey, and lacrosse players.  Current and former players qualify for testing.

While damages won’t be paid, lawsuits may still be filed by those who have injuries.  And the testing could fuel eventual liability.  But unless the settlement says otherwise (and it’s unclear at this point whether it does), the NCAA and any member schools also presumably would be able to advance all available defenses.  In many cases, the question of whether the case was filed within the applicable statute of limitations could be an important threshold argument for the plaintiff to overcome.

Like the NFL concussion settlement, the process now shifts to a federal judge for preliminary approval.  Which, as we learned with the NFL concussion settlement, could take a while.