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RWL Seeks Equal Protection For Women Lacrosse Players In NCAA Concussion Class Action

August 30, 2017 News


Court filing urges helmet requirements to protect women lacrosse players

BALTIMORE, MD, August 29, 2017 – A former National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) women’s lacrosse player has filed an Objection to a proposed settlement of NCAA concussion-focused class-action litigation because the settlement does not adequately protect college-level Women Lacrosse Players from catastrophic head injuries.

Samantha Greiber, an Annapolis, Maryland native, alleges that she suffers from permanent brain injuries resulting from two concussions that she sustained while playing NCAA women’s lacrosse at Hofstra University. Greiber wrote in an Affidavit submitted to the U.S. Federal court in Chicago that, as an active player, she desired to wear a type of helmet that would have prevented, or at the very least minimized her injuries. But, the NCAA rendered such helmets illegal – and only did so for women’s lacrosse programs. (Objection of Samantha Greiber to Amended Settlement Agreement)

Greiber’s lawyers at the firms Rifkin Weiner Livingston LLC (RWL) and Smouse & Mason, LLC, based in Baltimore, wrote in her Objection that the proposed settlement is not fair, reasonable or adequate because it would require Women Lacrosse Players to release any claim they have to require the NCAA to mandate protective helmets for Women Lacrosse Players or otherwise to educate NCAA institutions, coaches and players about the benefits of protective helmets. A hearing to determine the fairness of the proposed settlement has been set by United States District Judge John Z. Lee to take place on November 28, 2017, in Chicago.

Women Lacrosse Players seeking to join the Objection may do so before September 15, 2017:

According to the Objection filed in federal court in Chicago on August 29, 2017, Women Lacrosse Players represent a particularly unique and vulnerable group of NCAA student-athletes for whom a particular subclass of plaintiffs should have been created. The Objection notes that even after the Court indicated an earlier concern that Class Representatives as a group must adequately represent the “continuum” of the risk of suffering a concussion across different NCAA-sanctioned sports, no Class Representative was established to represent the unique interests of Women Lacrosse Players.

“Data from NCAA studies and its Injury Surveillance System, as well as from other academic sources, all well known to the NCAA, establish that the incidence of concussion for Women Lacrosse Players is consistently among the highest of any NCAA sport,” the Objection argues. The Objection further notes that the “The NCAA knows – and has available to it multiple studies and academic articles, some of which it sponsored, demonstrating – that the best available means to prevent student-athlete lacrosse players from suffering concussions is to require them to wear protective helmets, as it does for its male lacrosse players.”

Yet, Women Lacrosse Players remain unprotected. The proposed settlement not only fails to address the issue, but, if approved, it would bar Women Lacrosse Players from taking further legal action to require helmets.

The lawyers for Greiber note in the Objection: “The NCAA has undertaken a duty and contractually obligated itself to protect the health and safety of its student-athletes.” They further highlight that the NCAA’s Executive Director declared in July 2014 testimony to Congress that the organization has “a clear, moral obligation to make sure that we do everything we can to support and protect student-athletes.” The Greiber Objection notes that it is “reasonable for student-athletes such as Ms. Greiber to believe that the NCAA meant what it represented to the United States Senate, and it would also be reasonable for student-athletes to rely upon the NCAA to follow through upon such promises. Yet, the NCAA has strikingly failed to protect Women Lacrosse Players and has discriminated against them” by failing to require protective helmets for women or to provide even the most basic education about their use and benefits.

According to Aron U. Raskas, a partner at RWL, “It is shocking that in the face of all this data” – nearly two dozen studies are cited in the Objection – “and the advent of helmets designed to meet the standards developed specifically for women’s lacrosse by ASTM International, the NCAA bullishly refuses to mandate protective helmets for women, as it does for men, or even to educate women about them. It is sexist. It is discriminatory. And it is wrong.”

RWL has appeared in other class actions. In a recent Opinion issued in a class action spearheaded by RWL partner Charles S. Fax, another of Greiber’s lawyers, a federal judge wrote that the results obtained by Fax and his co-counsel were “impressive” and that “[a]chieving these results undoubtedly took …the most capable and experienced professionals in the country…”

The Objector, Samantha Greiber, is represented by Aron U. Raskas, Arnold Weiner, Alan Rifkin, Chuck Fax, and Barry Gogel of Rifkin Weiner Livingston LLC, and Roy Mason of Smouse and Mason. RWL and Smouse and Mason represent Greiber in a separate personal injury action against the NCAA, Hofstra University and others in Nassau County, New York seeking compensation for her injuries.

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Contact: Aron U. Raskas

Firm: Rifkin Weiner Livingston LLC

Tel: 410.769.8080

Cell Phone: 443-695-1368