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La Salle University Settles Football Player Brain Injury Lawsuit for $7.5 Million

The Associated Press reports that La Salle University, a private university, will pay $7.5 million to provide care to a football player who suffered a severe brain injury during a 2005 football game. The agreement with the family of Preston Plevretes, now 23, settles a lawsuit that revolved around how the school handled a concussion that Plevretes suffered a month prior to the injury.

The settlement comes as the NFL and NCAA reviews rules about when football players should be allowed to return to play after a concussion. Research suggests that returning too soon can lead to brain damage. Last Sunday, NFL quarterbacks Ben Roethlisberger of Pittsburgh and Kurt Warner of Arizona both sat out of their games after suffering head injuries.

Shanin Specter, an attorney for the Plevretes family, said, “Only in the past one to two years has there been the kind of attention placed on this matter necessary to force schools, colleges and the NFL to actually adhere to the well-promulgated and common-sense standards of the medical profession.”

Plevretes was injured when he took a hit while covering a punt in a 2005 game at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. He was 19 at the time. The hit knocked him unconscious. He awoke and was combative for three to five minutes before lapsing into a coma, according to Specter.

“That is the signature presentation of a second-impact syndrome. A brain already contused from a prior concussion swells very, very rapidly and herniated while the player is still on the field,” said Specter.

The lawsuit revolved around the claim that an earlier concussion had made Plevretes more vulnerable to the second catastrophic concussion. The lawsuit stated that Plevretes took a head-on hit in an October 4 practice and removed himself from the next game because of a headache.

La Salle University maintains that the injury stems solely from the hit at Duquesne University. La Salle admits no wrong-doing, and the settlement is covered by insurance. A school statement read: “From the time of Preston’s injury, the university community led by those who know Preston and his family, have been hoping and praying for his recovery. That hasn’t changed.”

Grant Teaff, executive director of the American Football Coaches Association, said that the focus on football player safety has grown recently as the medical understanding of traumatic brain injuries has grown. He believes that better training can prevent injuries. Teaff said, “We’re all in a learning process. What the outcome of that will be, I don’t think anybody knows, because the game is a very important part of Americana.”

Plevretes, who once dreamed of becoming a sportscaster, now wants to become a motivational speaker. Unfortunately, at this point, he can barely speak. He communicates using a keyboard most of the time. He needs help to walk even short distances and suffers from short-term memory loss.

“He and his family still love football,” Specter said. “They realize that what occurred is a rare circumstance, but one that is preventable through proper medical attention after a concussion.”

If you or a loved one has suffered a traumatic brain injury due to negligence, contact an experienced Georgia brain injury attorney as soon as possible. Call MLN Law at 404-531-9700 to schedule a free consultation.