After the cases were transferred to the medical Monitoring MDL court, settlement negotiations continued between the plaintiffs and the NCAA.
The parties eventually reached a proposed settlement, agreeing to the following terms: (i) the NCAA and its insurers will pay $70 million to create a Medical Monitoring Fund (the “Fund”); (ii) the NCAA will provide $5 million in additional funds for concussion-related research; (iii) the NCAA will make changes to its concussion-management and return-to-play policies; (iv) the plaintiffs agreed to release any and all claims seeking damages relief for personal injury on a class-wide basis related to concussion or sub-concussive hits sustained during participation in collegiate sports as an NCAA student-athlete; and (v) the NCAA agreed to toll the statute of limitations for all personal injury claims from September 12, 2011 (the date the Arrington action was filed) through the date of the court’s final approval of the settlement (the “First Proposed Settlement”). As such, the relief would be purely injunctive, non-monetary medical monitoring relief.
Although a proposed settlement was reached, one of the related actions transferred to the Medical Monitoring MDL—Nichols v. NCAA, Civil Action No. 1:14-cv-00962 (N.D. Ill.)—opposed the proposed class settlement. While the majority of the cases transferred to the Medical Monitoring MDL sought only medical monitoring relief, the Nichols action also sought to certify a class of plaintiffs seeking monetary damages. The Nichols opposed the class settlement because they wanted to retain their rights to pursue monetary damages on a class-wide basis, something that the settlement, if approved, would prohibit.
The court eventually denied the plaintiffs First Proposed Settlement for a laundry list of reasons. Among those reasons was the concern that the class definition included current and former student-athletes who play or played any NCAA-sanctioned sport at any NCAA-member institution. This definition would include student athletes who played both contact and non-contact sports. The proposed settlement, however, treated these two differently. The court also had problems with the First Proposed Settlement’s notice plan, the criteria used to evaluate and score questionnaires, the limitations on questionnaires and evaluations, program locations, and retention of unused funds provisions. In light of those concerns, the court encouraged the parties to continue their settlement negotiations.
Stay tuned for more upcoming blogs about the progression of the litigation against the NCAA. To learn more about Circelli, Walter & Young, PLLC, please visit http://www.cwylaw.com/.