A former soccer player for Clemson University is suing her fellow players, coaches, and several members of the administration after suffering severe brain injuries from hazing. The woman sustained permanent trauma as a freshman, during the hazing ritual planned by the players, supported by the coaches, and ignored by the Clemson athletic department. Traumatic brain injury lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm examine this case and advise students and parents on how to stay healthy.
The United States, for better or worse, is in love with sports – we go nuts over the Super Bowl, Olympics, even the World Cup had its moment. Sports and sportsmanship provide valuable lessons to young athletes: discipline, respect for authority, and the ability to work with others to accomplish a goal are lifelong virtues. Unfortunately, in the midst of our romance with professional sports and players, we have lost sight of what truly matters in the long-run, which is health and safety.
The NFL recently stated in federal court that one in three players will develop long-term cognitive problems, and that these conditions will manifest at young ages. This is significant in many ways, not least of which because the NFL has denied these facts for several decades, disputing evidence that its players suffered significantly higher rates of brain damage than the general population. The League is only admitting this, however, out of necessity. There are now troves of irrefutable evidence on this topic that specifically centers of the NFL and its players.
Much of this evidence came to light in court, where more than 5,000 former players sued the NFL for hiding the risks of repeated concussions. The case infamously settled for $675 million, which will cover treatment for the injuries and diseases associated the NFL players suffered from their careers. Although this seems like a significant pool of money, the settlement has been widely criticized as inadequate to cover the true costs of medical care.
Among the conditions linked to repeated head trauma include chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which, like dementia, is both chronic and degenerative. The vast majority of players receiving compensation from this settlement will suffer from Alzheimer’s or advanced dementia. Other conditions include Parkinson’s disease, CTE, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
The lawsuit against Clemson, filed by Haley Ellen Hunt, details the circumstances leading up to and after the brain trauma. Hunt’s injury occurred in August 2011 during a ritual freshman hazing near Riggs Field. The freshmen were blindfolded, demeaned, and ordered to perform various tasks. Hunt was spun around in circles in order to be disoriented, then ordered to sprint down the field while blindfolded. She was told to run as fast as she could and ran head first into a brick wall. No one attempted to stop her.
She was knocked unconscious and carried to the locker room, where the Clemson
coaches were called. Some of the players wanted to call an ambulance but
the Clemson coaches decided not to take her to the hospital, and told
the other players not to tell anyone about the incident. Hunt was sent
back to her dorm with a butterfly bandage and without supervision.
Hunt was later diagnosed with a concussion, lacerations to her hands and face, facial bruising, and two black eyes. Weeks and months later Hunt continued to suffer neurological symptoms, like trouble concentrating, constant headaches, and inability to read for long periods. Now, three years after the incident, a concussion specialist noted that she now experiences a substantial decrease in cognitive function. She has to take daily medication and has permanent vision problems.
We will continue to report on this case and others like it as more details are reported. If you have any questions about traumatic brain injury and their long-term consequences, don’t hesitate to contact our firm. Our brain injury attorneys provide free legal consultations to concerned athletes and their families nationwide, and never charge any fees unless we are successful in your case.