Concussion class action filed against Illinois High School Sports Association

Posted on: December 2nd, 2014 by Steve Larson

football-injuryA class-action complaint has been filed in circuit court in Cook County, Ill. Daniel Bukal, who quarterbacked Notre Dame College Prep in Niles, Ill., from 1999 to 2003, is the named plaintiff on the complaint. The lawsuit was filed the same day the Illinois High School Association (“IHSA”) is hosting state football championships.

The complaint says the IHSA was derelict in its duties to protect athletes. In 2011, the state passed the “Protecting Our Student Athletes” Act, requiring education for athletes and their parents, mandating the removal of an athlete with concussion symptoms from a game or practice and requiring athletes be cleared by a health care professional before returning to competition. The IHSA also mandated this year that there be no tackling in summer practices and the state, with support from the IHSA, enacted a law that requires concussion education for all coaches.

The IHSA failed to properly address concussions before the 2011 act, the complaint argues, and still has fallen short since the law was passed. It points out that medical personnel are only required for games and not practices. While rules mandate players must be removed from a contest if they exhibit concussion symptoms, it does not address practices.

The IHSA also does not mandate baseline testing, concussion tracking or education for athletic trainers working with teams, the complaint says.

In 2011, the lawyer in this case was the first to file a concussion lawsuit against the NCAA. That case, which was consolidated with many others in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, is currently awaiting approval of a preliminary settlement that the plaintiffs reached with the NCAA in July.

The lawsuit against the IHSA builds on that settlement. Like that case, this complaint seeks a change to policies and procedures as well as medical monitoring for members of the class, which it defines as current or former football players who competed for an IHSA member school from 2002 to present.