ShareThis Page

Ex-Pitt football players file lawsuit over concussions

| Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016, 4:06 p.m.
Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
Former Pitt running back Brandon Mason carries the ball during a practice Aug. 26, 2005.

A former Pitt football player claims in a federal class-action lawsuit filed Thursday that the university, NCAA, former Big East Conference, ACC and American Athletic Conference failed to protect football players from concussions.

Brandon Mason played running back for Pitt from 2004-06, then became a player for Stony Brook in New York, the lawsuit says.

“While attending and playing for Pittsburgh, Mason received head-to-head contact (which is banned by the NCAA due to its propensity to cause concussions) in nearly every full practice and game during his three years at Pittsburgh,” the lawsuit says.

His concussions went undiagnosed, the lawsuit alleges. Mason once reported a memory-loss incident to a coach — not identified in the lawsuit — but didn't bring it up again because he was worried about how it would affect his athletic career, the lawsuit says.

Mason's lawsuit, filed by New York firm Napoli Shkolnik PLLC, seeks damages on behalf of all Pitt football players since 1990.

“We're hoping that he gets compensation,” said Hunter Shkolnik, one of Mason's lawyers. “We're hoping that the NCAA takes responsibility for the same kind of injuries that are seen in professional football.”

A Pitt spokesman declined comment Thursday.

Mason's lawsuit is the latest in a series of concussion-related lawsuits filed by college football players. Chicago-based law firm Edelson PC has filed at least 43 class-action concussion lawsuits against the NCAA and Division I programs since May.

Former Pitt fullback Conredge Collins, through the Chicago firm, filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the NCAA and AAC in Indianapolis federal court.

Other lawsuits filed Tuesday were on behalf of former players from Alabama, Georgia Tech, Idaho, Iowa, Maryland, Mississippi, Notre Dame, Richmond, South Carolina, Syracuse, Texas A&M, and UCLA.

On Monday, former players from Ball State, Eastern Michigan, Florida A&M, Memphis and Rutgers filed lawsuits.

The players are seeking damages for injuries they claim are the result of mishandled concussions they suffered while playing.

“The NCAA does not believe that these complaints present legitimate legal arguments and expects that they can be disposed of early by the court,” Donald Remy, NCAA chief legal officer, said in an email to the Tribune-Review.

Dr. Bennett Omalu, a former Allegheny County deputy coroner, discovered evidence linking football-related brain injuries to chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, a degenerative brain disease resulting from repeated blows to the head.

The movie “Concussion,” starring Will Smith, is based on Omalu's life. A significant portion of the movie was filmed in Pittsburgh.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Brian Bowling is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at bbowling@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.