Jury: NCAA not to blame in ex-USC football player’s death

LOS ANGELES — In a verdict that would have an effect on numerous claims by athletes who sue sports activities organizations for head accidents, a Los Angeles jury on Tuesday rejected a lawsuit in search of $55 million by the widow of a former USC participant who stated the NCAA failed to shield him from repeated head trauma. that led to his death.

Matthew Gee, a linebacker on the 1990 Rose Bowl-winning squad, endured an estimated 6,000 hits as a university athlete, attorneys for his widow stated. They alleged these impacts prompted everlasting mind harm, and led to cocaine and alcohol abuse that ultimately killed him at age 49.

The NCAA, the governing physique of US school sports activities, stated it had nothing to do with Gee’s death, which it stated was a sudden cardiac arrest introduced on by untreated hypertension and acute cocaine toxicity. A lawyer for the NCAA stated Gee suffered from many different well being issues not associated to , akin to liver cirrhosis, that may have ultimately killed him.

Hundreds of wrongful death and private harm lawsuits have been introduced by school gamers in opposition to the NCAA in the previous decade, however Gee’s was the primary one to attain a jury. The swimsuit alleged that hits to the top led to continual traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative mind illness identified by the acronym CTE.

Judge Terry Green instructed jurors in Los Angeles Superior Court they “made historical past” in the primary case of its sort.

The outcome may function a warning to attorneys making ready to take comparable circumstances to trial, stated Dan Lust, a sports activities regulation lawyer and professor at New York Law School. Before the trial, he had stated {that a} Gee victory may have opened the floodgates in opposition to the NCAA. Now, the NCAA has extra leverage in future circumstances.

“Any plaintiff’s lawyer goes to assume twice earlier than placing all of the chips in the desk and pushing them to the center and saying, ‘We’re going to take our case to trial and see what occurs,'” Lust stated. “You’re going to be a lot much less inclined to take that danger from a cost-benefit perspective.”

Alana Gee choked up as the decision was learn and had tears in her eyes afterward. She instructed one among her attorneys that she did not perceive how the jury got here to that call, however thanked the seven girls and 5 males personally as they left the courtroom. She declined to remark afterwards.

“We really feel deep sympathy for the Gee household proper off the bat,” Will Stute, the NCAA lawyer, stated afterwards. “But we really feel like this verdict is a vindication of the place we have taken in all these circumstances, which is the science and medication in Matthew Gee’s circumstance did not assist causation.”

Stute had argued that medical proof is not clear on what causes CTE, and what the impacts are from that illness.

Attorneys for Gee stated CTE, which is discovered in athletes and army veterans who suffered repetitive mind accidents, was an oblique reason for death as a result of head trauma has been proven to promote substance abuse.

Alana Gee had testified that the faculty sweethearts had 20 good years of marriage earlier than her husband’s psychological well being started to deteriorate and he grew to become indignant, depressed and impulsive, and started overeating and abusing medication and alcohol.

The NCAA stated the case hinged on what it knew on the time Gee performed, from 1988-92, and not about CTE, which was first found in the mind of a deceased NFL participant in 2005.

Gee by no means reported having a concussion and stated in an utility to play with the Raiders after graduating that he had by no means been knocked unconscious, Stute stated.

“You cannot maintain the NCAA chargeable for one thing 40 years later that no person ever reported,” Stute stated in his closing argument. “The plaintiffs need you in a time journey machine. We do not have one… on the NCAA. It’s not honest.”

Attorneys for Gee’s household stated there was little doubt that Matt Gee suffered concussions and numerous sub-concussive blows.

Mike Salmon, a teammate who went on to play in the NFL, testified that Gee, who was group captain his senior 12 months, was as soon as so dazed from a success that he could not name the subsequent play.

Gee was one among 5 linebackers on the 1989 Trojans squad who died earlier than turning 50. All displayed indicators of psychological deterioration related to head trauma.

As with teammate and NFL star Junior Seau, who killed himself in 2012, Gee’s mind was examined posthumously at Boston University’s Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy Center and located to have CTE.

Jurors have been not allowed to hear testimony about Gee’s deceased teammates.

Alana Gee’s attorneys had argued that the NCAA, which was based in 1906 for athlete security, had identified about impacts from head accidents because the Nineteen Thirties however failed to educate gamers, ban headfirst contact, or implement baseline testing for concussion signs.

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