Mike Anderson to refile NCAA concussion suit in state court

Advocate staff file photo by RICHARD ALLAN HANNON -- Mike Anderson's seafood restaurant. Show caption
Advocate staff file photo by RICHARD ALLAN HANNON -- Mike Anderson's seafood restaurant.

Mike Anderson will refile in state court

Baton Rouge restaurateur and former LSU All-American linebacker Mike Anderson has dismissed the concussion-related lawsuit he and his wife filed in federal court against the NCAA and an equipment maker but will refile the suit in state court, the couple’s attorney said Tuesday.

Patrick Pendley, who represents the Andersons, said the couple voluntarily dismissed the suit, which had been filed in U.S. District Court in Baton Rouge in March, because of questions that arose over whether the federal court had jurisdiction over the matter.

The NCAA is essentially domiciled in every state because the governing body of college athletics has member schools in every state, Pendley said, so the suit will be refiled in the 19th Judicial District Court in Baton Rouge.

Pendley filed a notice of voluntary dismissal of the federal action on Friday. The suit should be refiled in state court this week, he said.

Anderson, owner of Mike Anderson’s Seafood, and his wife, Juanita Lockhart Anderson, sued the NCAA and equipment manufacturer Riddell Inc. for unspecified damages to help cover legal fees, medical monitoring and the ongoing medical costs that have arisen from his college football concussions.

Anderson, a standout linebacker at LSU from 1967-70, is now suffering from memory loss and headaches.

He will undergo sophisticated testing at Pennington Biomedical Research Center to see if doctors can determine the extent of his injuries, Pendley said.

The Andersons’ suit highlighted medical studies conducted over several decades that showed the link between repeated head injuries and brain damage.

The suit claimed the NCAA acted negligently in failing to protect football players and hid the long-term effects of head injuries from players.

The suit also alleged the NCAA has known about the high number of concussions among football players since the 1960s but failed to warn its student-athletes of what concussion symptoms to look out for, while continuing to reap enormous revenue from the student-athletes competing and refusing to pay their medical expenses in their post-college careers.

The Andersons also alleged Riddell was negligent in its design and engineering of the helmets Anderson wore during his playing days, calling the helmets “defective in design” and saying the design is one of the reasons Anderson suffered concussions during his career.

Riddell spokeswoman Erin Griffin has said the company does not comment on pending litigation.

A day after the Andersons’ suit was filed, NCAA chief legal officer Donald Remy said the allegations seem to be patterned after other suits filed against the NCAA and added, “We do not believe that the claims are properly directed to the NCAA.”

Remy noted the NCAA remains committed to student athlete safety and will continue to make changes to rules and best practices to address head injuries “as science, medicine and technology identify advancements.”