NCAA Prevails At $55M Bellwether Trial Over Ex-USC Football Player’s Head Injuries, Watch Online via CVN

Posted by David Siegel on Nov 23, 2022 11:51:47 AM

Stute closings

CVN screenshot of defense attorney Will Stute delivering his closing argument

Los Angeles, CA - A California state court jury cleared the NCAA on Tuesday in the first lawsuit accusing the college athletic organization of failing to protect students from head injuries to reach a verdict, and the full trial was recorded gavel-to-gavel by Courtroom View Network.

The Los Angeles County jury began hearing arguments in late October in the lawsuit filed by plaintiff Alana Gee on behalf of her deceased husband, Matthew Gee, who played as a linebacker for USC in the the early 1990’s. She sought $55 million in damages from the NCAA, claiming that repeated blows to his head caused Matthew to develop a degenerative brain disease called chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE.

The NCAA argued throughout the trial that Matthew’s death in 2018 was the result of alcohol and cocaine use and other medical conditions like high blood pressure and obesity.

The trial was recorded in full by CVN from the start of opening statements forward, including all witness testimony. The case was closely watched as it marked only the second time a claim involving an ex-football player against the NCAA went to trial. The first trial in Texas, also recorded by CVN, settled just days after opening statements.

Sign up for a monthly or annual subscription to CVN’s online trial video library and get unlimited access to both NCAA trials, along with hundreds others from throughout the United States involving a wide range of practice areas and featuring many of the country’s top plaintiff and defense attorneys.

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Gee’s attorneys described to jurors Matthew’s rapid deterioration after living a relatively normal life for years after playing college football, until he suffered a sudden cardiac arrest in 2018. They said his increasingly erratic mental condition during his final years caused him to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol.

The diagnosis of CTE came posthumously after Alana provided samples of Matthew’s brain tissue to a lab for analysis on the suspicion he died because of the degenerative condition.

Shrader closings

CVN screenshot of plaintiff attorney Justin Shrader delivering his closing argument 

During the trial Gee’s team also presented evidence the NCAA allegedly knew for decades that high-impact sports like football posed a serious risk to athletes but failed to implement protective steps like banning headfirst contact or implementing regular testing to screen for early concussion symptoms.

However the NCAA argued that the medical community only became aware of CTE’s existence in the early 2000’s, and that the organization’s decisions from decades ago should not be evaluated by modern standards.

In addition to maintaining that Matthew’s medical problems and drug and alcohol use made it impossible to definitively say his death resulted from CTE, the NCAA also emphasized that football players voluntarily engage in a high-impact sport they know carries inherent health risks.

Judge Terry Green, who told jurors they “made history” in the first case of its kind, presided over the trial.

Alana Gee was represented by Shrader & Associates.

The NCAA was represented by Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP.

The case is captioned Alana Gee, individually and as Executor of the Estate of Matthew Gee, deceased v. National Collegiate Athletic Association, case number 20STCV43627 in the Superior Court of California for the County of Los Angeles.

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Topics: California