The NCAA is being forced to play defense again after a former University of Minnesota (UM) offensive lineman filed suit against the association, as well as the Big Ten conference and the school, claiming that the defendants’ negligence contributed to multiple concussions he suffered and the debilitated state that he finds himself in today.
Plaintiff Josh Campion played for the Gophers from 2011 to 2015. During that span, he suffered four diagnosed concussions and “innumerable undiagnosed concussions,” according to the lawsuit. Further, he alleged that he now suffers post-concussion syndrome and has irreversible brain damage.
Specifically, Champion alleges that the NCAA and U of M “failed … to educate student football players not to lead with the front of the helmeted head in blocking and tackling, and failed to educate coaches, players, and trainers to identify routine ‘dings’ and ‘seeing stars’ as concussive and/or sub-concussive injuries.
In his complaint, filed in Hennepin County District Court, he noted that the defendants “failed to implement and enforce reasonable precautions to create a safe playing environment for college football players, failed to inform the teenage Josh Campion about the risks he faced, and failed to teach safe playing techniques to minimize sub-concussive and concussive injury.”
Elaborating on the first point, he claimed “U of M football coaches encouraged and never discouraged helmet first contact in blocking and tackling at a time when U of M, the NCAA, and the Big Ten were fully aware that helmet first techniques in blocking and tackling were dangerous and could lead to concussive and sub-concussive injuries.”
He also alleged school officials failed to remove him when they should have.
“Because U of M’s football coaching staff, trainers, and team doctors did not remove Josh Campion from the game at the time of the collision in the second quarter, Josh Campion sustained repeated concussive and sub-concussive blows to the head in the third and fourth quarters that aggravated the existing injury,” according to the complaint. “At no time between 2011 and 2015 did U of M provide Josh Campion with an examination by a neurologist or neuropsychologist in response to any diagnosed concussion.”
He is represented by David Langfitt of Pennsylvania and Garrett Blanchfield of St. Paul. Langfitt has led personal injury litigation against the NFL and NCAA involving brain injuries, representing more than a thousand former players.
Campion, who is joined by his wife in the suit, is seeking damages in excess of $25,000.