Widow asks jury for $55 million in landmark football head trauma case

angel – Attorney asked a jury Monday to award $55 million to the widow of a former USC football player landmark case accused the NCAA of failing to protect him from the repeated head trauma that led to his death.

In a photo provided by USC Athletics, former Southern California player Matthew Gee attends an NCAA football game.

USC Athletics via AP

Matthew Gee, a hard-hitting linebacker who was on the 1990 Rose Bowl-winning squad, took countless blows that caused permanent brain damage and abused cocaine and alcohol, which eventually took his life at age 49. His lawyers said in closing arguments. His widow Alana ji was in the court on Monday.

In the first case of its kind to go to a jury, attorneys told Los Angeles Superior Court jurors that the NCAA, the governing body of college athletics in the US, had known about the effects of head injury in sports since the 1930s, But failed. for decades to inform players about the risks or create rules to protect players.

Attorney Bill Horton said, “You can’t bring Matt back but you can say what the NCAA did to him was wrong.” “Put it on the NCAA’s radar. … That’s the only way they’ll ever hear.”

A lawyer for the NCAA said that Ji experienced sudden cardiac death due to long-standing high blood pressure and acute cocaine poisoning. They discussed Gee’s other serious health problems, which he said were not related to football.

Attorney Will Stute said, “The NCAA had nothing to do with the things that tragically took Mr. G’s life.”

The issue of injury in sports, and especially football, has been front and center in recent years as research has discovered more about the long-term effects of repeated head trauma, such as problems ranging from headaches to depression and Sometimes early onset Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease.

The lawsuit is one of hundreds of wrongful death and personal injury lawsuits brought by college football players against the NCAA over the past decade.

But Gee is only the second case to be tried with allegations that a head injury caused chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease. A 2018 case in Texas settled days after trial.

Gee was one of five linebackers on the 1989 Trojans squad who died before the age of 50. Along with teammate and NFL star Junior Seau, who killed himself in 2012, Gee’s brain was posthumously examined at Boston University’s Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy Center and found to have CTE.

sites Linked to memory loss, depression and progressive dementia. It can be diagnosed only after death.

According to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Boston University found CTE in the brains of 110 of 111 deceased former NFL players and 48 of 53 former college players.

Hall of Famers diagnosed posthumously include Ken Stabler and Mike Webster.

In his senior year, Gee was team captain and led USC in tackles, forced fumbles and fumble recoveries.

Ji married his college sweetheart Alana after graduation in 1992 and they lived a normal life for 20 years. They raised three children while running a successful insurance company in Southern California.

But according to the lawsuit, things changed around 2013, when she began to lose control of her emotions. He became angry, confused and depressed. He drank heavily. He told a doctor that he forgot the whole day.

Gee’s lawyers said CTE, which is found in athletes and military veterans who suffer repetitive brain injuries, was an indirect cause of death because the head trauma was shown to fuel substance abuse. has gone.

Stute said that the wrongful death case was about what caused Gee’s death and not whether CTE was present, which he said was still a hypothesis.

After years of denial, the NFL acknowledged in 2016 that BU’s research showed a link between football and CTE. The league agreed to settle head injury cases covering 20,000 retired players, providing up to $4 million for CTE-related deaths. Over $1.4 billion in payouts is expected over 65 years for six qualifying terms.

In 2016, the NCAA created a class-action plan to pay $70 million to monitor the medical conditions of former college athletes, $5 million for medical research, and up to $5,000 for individual players who claim injuries. Agreed to settle the Action Concussion lawsuit.

Stute stated that Gee never reported having a concussion and that he had never been sedated, saying in an application to play with the Raiders after graduation.

He said the NCAA was being put in a position to defend itself against allegations that were unknown at the time, noting that CTE was not discovered until 2005. He said there was nothing the NCAA could have done that would have kept Gee alive today.

Stute said, “You can’t hold the NCAA responsible 40 years later for something that no one ever reported.” “The plaintiffs want you in a time travel machine. We don’t have one… in the NCAA. It’s not fair.”

Stute said that a former NFL official who reviewed all available tapes of Gee’s USC games said that his head was tackled safely without use and that there were no signs of a head injury.

Horton said that at the time Gee played, the NCAA did not share what it knew about the medical risks of repetitive head injuries, did not prevent players from returning to the field after injuries, and did not recommend recommendations. Despite not limiting the number of exercises. To do this, Horton said.

As he showed pictures of Gee at her wedding and holding her young daughter in a pink tutu, Horton choked up, noting that Tuesday would have been Gee’s birthday.

Horton said, “Render a verdict … so he did not die in vain.” “So every 18-year-old who plays football knows the dangers of the sport he’s playing.”

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