Student-Athletes File Lawsuits and Settlement Negotiations Commence

On September 12, 2011, Adrian Arrington filed a class action lawsuit against the NCAA on behalf of a putative class of student athletes.

See Arrington, et. al. v. Nat’l Collegiate Athletic Ass’n, Civil Action No. 11-cv-06356 (N.D. Ill.).  Derek Owens subsequently filed a separate class action lawsuit, also on behalf of a putative class of student-athletes, which was consolidated with ArringtonSee Owens v. Nat’l Collegiate Ass’n, Civil Action No. 11-cv-6816 (N.D. Ill.).  After consolidation, several additional student-athletes joined the cases as plaintiffs.

These cases all stem from injuries the players sustained while playing sports at NCAA-member institutions, including damages resulting from the permanent long-term effects of concussions. The plaintiffs sought medical monitoring for all current and former student-athletes, changes to the NCAA’s return-to-play guidelines for students who experience concussions or concussion-related symptoms, and monetary damages for their injuries.

The plaintiffs from these cases subsequently filed a Class Action Complaint, and moved to certify the class for medical monitoring purposes only.  Before the NCAA was required to file a response, the parties mutually agreed to put the motion for class certification on hold pending settlement negotiations.

When the Arrington case was stayed and settlement negotiations began, several other actions on behalf of current and former NCAA student-athletes were filed against the NCAA nationwide.  The Arrington plaintiffs moved to centralize this litigation in a Multidistrict Litigation (“MDL”) court located in the Northern District of Illinois.  The Arrington plaintiffs alleged that the actions before the court seek medical monitoring for putative class members of former student-athletes at NCAA-member schools who allege they suffered concussions and that centralization of the cases would promote the just and efficient conduct of such actions.

On December 18, 2013, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (“MDL Panel”) consolidated the individual cases into a pre-trial Multidistrict Litigation (“MDL”) court located in the Northern District of Illinois.1  The MDL Panel also assigned the Honorable John Z. Lee to oversee the coordinated and consolidated pretrial proceedings concerning these cases.2  The new MDL case was captioned as follows: In re: Nat’l Collegiate Athletic Ass’n Student-Athlete Concussion Injury Litig., MDL No. 2492, Master Dkt. No. 1:13-cv-09116 (N.D. Ill.) (the “Medical Monitoring MDL”).

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


1See In re: Nat’l Collegiate Athletic Ass’n Student-Athlete Concussion Injury Litig., 988 F. Supp. 2d 1373 (MDL Panel 2013).

2Id. at 1375.


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