NCAA Settles Concussion Lawsuit on Third Day of Trial

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What was shaping up to be a lengthy trial between the NCAA and the widow of a former football player has ended in a settlement just three short days after the trial began.

Debra Hardin-Ploetz filed a lawsuit back in January of 2017, alleging that the NCAA was guilty of negligence and wrongful death after her husband, Greg Ploetz, died from brain injuries she said he suffered when he played for the Texas Longhorns. Hardin-Ploetz reached an agreement with the NCAA on Friday. 

Ploetz was 66 at the time of his death. He played linebacker and defensive tackle for the Longhorns from 1968-71, winning a national championship with the team in 1969.

According to ESPNHardin-Ploetz was seeking more than $1 million in damages, and some considered her lawsuit a landmark case because it was the first civil case to make it to trial in which an individual plaintiff argued that an organization was negligent in protecting a player from brain injuries.

"The settlement gives all parties the opportunity to resolve the case outside of a lengthy trial," Donald Remy, the NCAA's chief legal officer, said in a statement. "The NCAA does not admit liability as part of the settlement. We will continue to defend the Association vigorously in all jurisdictions where similar unwarranted individual cases are pursued. It is our hope that other plaintiffs' lawyers recognize that this is one settlement in one case."

Hardin-Ploetz's lawsuit alleges that her husband "suffered numerous concussions and sub-concussive blows to the head" while playing at Texas, and that the NCAA's "failure to take effective action to protect [Ploetz] from the long-term effects of concussions and sub-concussive blows to the head while he played NCAA football" contributed to his death.

"During all times relevant to this complaint, the NCAA knew, or should have known, of the long-term dangers of concussions and sub-concussive blows to the head regularly suffered by intercollegiate football players," the complaint said. "The NCAA failed to initiate policies or rules necessary to protect Gregory Ploetz in the face of long-standing and overwhelming evidence regarding the need to do so.”

Terms of the settlement were not immediately available.

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