| March 17, 2018

Football: Sun Belt Gets Sued

October 10, 2016

Edelson PC filed 18 class action suits on behalf of college football players against several conferences Oct. 3 and 4. One suit was filed by former Idaho player Antjuan Tolbert against the Sun Belt Conference and the NCAA for failure to protect players from concussions.

Tolbert played cornerback at Idaho from 2000-2003.

According to court filings, the suit aims to “obtain redress for all persons injured by (Sun Belt’s and NCAA’s) reckless disregard for the health and safety of generations of University of Idaho student-athletes.”

Tolbert brings the suit as a representative of himself, a class involving Idaho football players between 1952 and 2010, and a Sun Belt subclass including individuals who participated in Idaho football between 2001 and 2004.

Since May, Edelson PC has filed 43 suits. This is the fifth set of federal lawsuits filed by the national plaintiffs’ law firm. The firm is based in Chicago and San Francisco.

Former players in the fifth round of suits hail from Ball State, Memphis, Florida A&M, Eastern Michigan, Rutgers, Notre Dame, Richmond, Maryland, Alabama, Mississippi, Syracuse, South Carolina, Pittsburgh, UCLA, Iowa and Texas A&M.

Tolbert’s class action suit was filed in the southern district court of Indiana with a demand for a jury trial.

Tolbert’s suit states that he now suffers from neurological and cognitive damage, dizziness, fatigue, headaches, memory loss, sensitivity to light ­— all symptoms of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).

CTE is a degenerative brain disease found in patients with a history of repetitive brain trauma. It is most commonly found in athletes.

Brain trauma causes a buildup of an abnormal protein called tau. Tau slowly kills brain cells.

In the court documents, Tolbert said he suffered at least five concussions during his football career at Idaho. One concussion was so severe, it resulted in a hospital visit. He said he quickly returned to play following every concussive or subconcussive incident.

Documents say, until 2010, the Idaho football program had no full concussion management protocol or policy.

Documents also say college football players can receive over 1,000 impacts of 10 gravitational force (Gs) or more. A majority of head impacts exceed 20 Gs and can reach 100 Gs.

The  lawsuit said the impact of a car accident would be around 100 Gs, so players receive constant impact of several hundred car accidents every season.

Repeated brain injury can lead to memory loss, dementia, depression, CTE and Parkinson’s disease.

Documents allege the Sun Belt and NCAA were aware of the long-term dangers of head injuries from college football and did not adopt internationally accepted guidelines for concussion management until 2010.

The full court filing will be available on thevandalnation.com

Click here to see the full court filing

Tess Fox can be reached at arg-sports@uidaho.edu or on Twitter @tesstakesphotos

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