Former Notre Dame player sues university, NCAA over concussions

Margaret Fosmoe
ND Insider

Former University of Notre Dame football player Gary Gray is suing Notre Dame and the NCAA, claiming he suffered repetitive head injuries while playing football and didn't receive proper medical care.

It's among the latest in a wave of federal lawsuits filed by Chicago law firm Edelson PC on behalf of former football players related to concussions suffered during college football play.

Gray, a top recruit, was a cornerback on the Fighting Irish football team from 2007 through 2011.

The suit claims Gray suffering a number of concussions while playing football at Notre Dame, but that the university failed to provide appropriate medical treatment. When Gray suffered concussive or sub-concussive hits, he would "shake it off" and get put back in the game, according to the complaint.

As a result, Gray now suffers from mood swings, anxiety, depression and other debilitating issues, according to the complaint.

The lawsuit claims that for decades Notre Dame and the NCAA knew about the debilitating long-term dangers of concussions, concussion-related injuries and traumatic brain injuries that resulted from playing college football, but actively concealed that information to protect the business of college football.

The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in the southern district of Indiana. The firm has now filed 43 such suits since May.

On Monday, the same law firm filed a lawsuit on behalf of former Ball State University football player Geoff Donner against the NCAA and the Mid-American Conference. That suit claims injury and reckless disregard for the health and safety of BSU student-athletes.

Donner, a fullback for the Ball State Cardinals from 1993 to 1995, claims that he did not receive appropriate medical care for at least three concussions during his student football days. He now suffers from dementia, depression, memory loss and other side effects from the concussions, according to the lawsuit.

The players are seeking damages. All the lawsuits name the NCCA, and some also name athletic conferences and/or the colleges themselves.

The latest were filed on behalf of Gray and former players from Texas A&M, UCLA, Maryland, Richmond, Idaho, South Carolina, Mississippi, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Georgia Tech, Alabama and Iowa. A day earlier, suits were filed on behalf of Donner and former players from Memphis, Rutgers, Eastern Michigan and Florida A&M filed lawsuits.

A judge in a previous case ruled one large class-action concussion lawsuit could not be filed against the NCAA.

In a statement, Donald Remy, the NCAA’s chief legal officer, called the lawsuits "mere copycats" and "questionable class actions," the Los Angeles Times reported.

“This strategy will not work,” the statement said. “The NCAA does not believe that these complaints present legitimate legal arguments and expects that they can be disposed of early by the court.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Notre Dame cornerback Gary Gray speaks with reporters during Media Day at Notre Dame Stadium on Aug. 16, 2011. Tribune File Photo/MARCUS MARTER