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Family of First Black, UT Football Player Sues NCAA Over Head Trauma

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The family of Julius Whittier, the first Black football player to ever take the field for the University of Texas, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the NCAA alleging that Whittier suffered from head trauma during his time as an athlete. Whittier died at the age of 68. The plaintiffs believe that football played a role in his death.

The Facts

Whittier played college football at the University of Texas in the early 70s. He later went on to become an attorney in Dallas. In 2018, Whittier died of Alzheimer’s disease. A post-mortem examination of his brain revealed that he suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, also known as CTE, a degenerative brain disease that has been implicated in several incidents with former football players.

The Merits of This Case

The merits of a case like this rely heavily on medical experts. We know that CTE is a product of multiple head traumas. We know that CTE can lead to impulse control problems, brain damage, loss of concentration, cognitive impairment, and more. Stories such as these have been in the news for a while. So the jury will likely be biased in favor of the plaintiff.

On the other hand, it’s unclear that CTE led to Whittier’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or if the disease was the product of his genetics. The defense will raise this possibility when his case is being tried. They will also raise the fact that Whittier went on to become a successful lawyer in Dallas and spent much of his life doing lucrative work for the public. This doesn’t appear on the surface to be commensurate with the plaintiff’s allegations.

As a condition, symptoms of CTE tend to manifest eight to ten years after an individual has suffered multiple traumatic brain injuries. The allegations do not fit this timeline.

One would expect the symptoms to have begun about a decade after Whittier graduated and began practicing law. His condition would have slowly deteriorated until it was misdiagnosed as Alzheimer’s disease. The autopsy then revealed that the cause of death was CTE. But what’s missing?

The plaintiffs will need to establish a timeline for Whittier’s condition that fits what medical experts know about CTE. The disease is a neurodegenerative condition that occurs in four stages. The first stage has symptoms such as ADHD, confusion, disorientation, dizziness, and headaches. To establish this timeline, the family will need to provide medical records and personal stories about Whittier that showed how his condition degenerated.

Further, there is the possibility that Whittier’s Alzheimer’s was caused by CTE. But there’s also a possibility that it wasn’t. If there are other members of Whittier’s family who died with Alzheimer’s, the defense can raise this point to cast doubt on the plaintiff’s claim. Attaching a specific condition like this to a single cause can often be difficult.

Talk to a Houston Personal Injury Attorney Today

If you’ve sustained an injury due to someone else’s negligence, the Houston personal injury attorneys at Livingston & Flowers can help you file a lawsuit against the at-fault party and recover damages related to your lost wages, medical expenses, and suffering. Call today to schedule a free consultation.

 

Resource:

houstonchronicle.com/texas-sports-nation/college/article/Julius-Whittier-Texas-football-NCAA-lawsuit-15377446.php

https://www.livingstonflowerslaw.com/lobbyists-push-to-give-immunity-to-health-care-during-pandemic/

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