A Sacramento native has joined the heated legal fray over concussions suffered by college football players.
Ronald W. Hermann II played football for Christian Brothers High School and Sacramento City College before going on to play defensive end at Georgia in 1984 and 1985.
Hermann, 53, who resides in Rocklin, is the plaintiff in a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Sacramento federal court alleging that he “was subjected to repeated head impacts and TBIs (long-term brain injuries) in practices and games, and suffered numerous concussions each year as a result.”
The 29-page complaint names as defendants the NCAA and the Southeastern Conference. Georgia is a member of the SEC, but is not a defendant.
Hermann “was deprived ... of the appropriate medical attention and treatment that (the defendants) knew was necessary to monitor, manage, and mitigate risks associated with TBIs,” according to the complaint.
It claims that he “now suffers from deficits in cognitive functioning, reduced processing speed, decline in attention and reasoning, loss of memory, sleeplessness, fatigue and mood swings, among other issues. Hermann’s loss of memory is particularly challenging, and he has sought out medical treatment in an effort to find answers that defendants failed to provide.”
The civil damage suit is one of six filed Tuesday in various parts of the country. The other five seek monetary compensation in unspecified amounts for claimed lasting effects of concussions on behalf of former football players at Penn State, Auburn, Oregon, Utah, and Vanderbilt.
The respective courts are asked to certify the suits as class actions limited to a single school. In Hermann’s case, for example, the proposed class is defined as: “All individuals who participated in University of Georgia’s varsity football program between 1952 and 2010.”
The NCAA began requiring its member schools to have concussion protocols in 2010.
Chicago attorney Jay Edelson of Edelson P.C., who is leading the charge against the NCAA, said 40 or 50 lawsuits will eventually be filed on behalf of thousands of ex-football players, according to media reports.
Hermann’s complaint was filed by Todd Logan, an attorney in Edelson’s San Francisco office.
When reached by telephone Wednesday, Hermann, who manages a faith-based television station that serves the Sacramento region, declined to comment.
“I don’t want to say anything publicly right now. Maybe, as the case progresses, I might,” he said.
His complaint says, “as a defensive lineman, Hermann hit, and was hit, hard and often. In one particular incident, he hit a running back on a kickoff so hard that he was knocked out. When Hermann came to, he saw stars and was helped to his sideline after first heading toward the opponent’s sideline.”
Even though he “sustained repetitive concussive and sub-concussive hits in practices and games for the profit and promotion of Georgia, the NCAA, and the SEC, defendants failed to adopt or implement any concussion management safety protocols or return-to-play guidelines whatsoever during his time on Georgia’s football team,” the suit alleges. “Accordingly, every time (Hermann) suffered a concussive or sub-concussive hit, he immediately returned to the field of play.”
The NCAA and Georgia did not respond to requests for comment. SEC spokesman Herb Vincent said the conference “does not comment on pending litigation.”
A settlement in an earlier concussion case against the NCAA is awaiting approval by a federal judge in Illinois.
Former Eastern Illinois football player Adrian Arrington sued the NCAA in 2011, resulting in a proposed settlement that provides no monetary compensation to players for injuries. It calls for the NCAA to create a $70 million fund for testing and monitoring former athletes for brain trauma and $5 million more for concussion research.
Though other plaintiffs signed off on the deal, Arrington and Edelson oppose it.
The Associated Press on Wednesday quoted Donald Remy, chief legal officer of the NCAA, as saying with respect to the six new lawsuits: “These cases appear to be yet another attempt by Mr. Edelson to interfere with efforts to move forward a settlement in the Arrington case. The lawsuits reflect copycat activity, and just because they keep repeating the same arguments does not make them true.”
Last month a federal appeals court approved a class-action settlement that may cost the NFL $1 billion. Expected to cover more than 20,000 retired players and 65 years of play, the settlement releases all concussion-related claims against the NFL.
Denny Walsh: 916-321-1189