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Court to rule if widow can sue over concussions

From ESPN - April 11, 2018

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Ohio Supreme Court will decide whether the widow of a former University of Notre Dame football player can sue the school and the NCAA over allegations her husband was disabled by concussions from his college career in the 1970s.

Steve Schmitz was suffering from dementia and early onset Alzheimer's disease when he and his wife, Yvette, filed a lawsuit in Cuyahoga County in October 2014. The lawsuit alleged both institutions showed "reckless disregard" for the safety of college football players and for their failure to educate and protect players from concussions.

The lawsuit said the link between repeated blows to the head and brain-related injuries and illnesses had been known for decades, but it was not until 2010 that the NCAA required colleges to formulate concussion protocols to remove an athlete from a game or practice and be evaluated by doctors.

Steve Schmitz died in February 2015. The lawsuit said the Cleveland Clinic diagnosed him in 2012 with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, a brain disease attributed to receiving numerous concussions.

A judge ruled that too much time had passed for Schmitz to sue, a decision overturned by a state appeals court.

Attorneys for Schmitz argue that he never knew he had been exposed to the risk of brain disease posed by "concussive blows to the head" during football. Receiving "dings" while playing and becoming temporarily disoriented is not the same as knowing at the time of an injury, David Langfitt, an attorney representing Schmitz' widow, told the court Wednesday.

"Schmitz had no knowledge that he was injured at any time," Langfitt said.

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