Former Army football player claims head trauma caused Lou Gehrig's disease, sues NCAA

By Nicholas Malfitano | Feb 7, 2018

PHILADELPHIA – A former college football linebacker has launched legal action against the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), charging the governing sports body’s alleged negligence in not informing him of the dangers of repeated head trauma led him to develop Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Charles Schretzman and Stacy Schretzman of Troy, Ohio, filed suit in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas on Feb. 5 versus the NCAA, of Indianapolis, Ind.

According to the lawsuit, Charles attended the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., where he played football as a linebacker from 1985 to 1989 and is said to have suffered repeated blows to the head during both practices and games.

“In the years following graduation and his NCAA career, Mr. Schretzman progressively experienced numbness, twitching, muscle atrophy, fatigue, loss of mobility, slurred speech, weakness, along with other neurological symptoms. In approximately April 2015, Dr. Colin Quinn, a neurologist in Philadelphia, diagnosed Mr. Schretzman with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, a debilitating and permanent condition caused by the repeated head trauma he sustained during his college football career in the NCAA,” the suit says.

Citing an NCAA bylaw which states it is the duty of the organization to ensure the healthy participation of all athletes in its governance, Schretzman claims the NCAA did not adhere to that bylaw by being aware of the long-term dangers associated with repeated blows to the head and concussions, and failing to inform him of same.

“The NCAA’s breach of its duty to exercise reasonable care based on its knowledge and what it should have known caused Mr. Schretzman to subsequently develop many neurocognitive conditions and have to endure numerous neurological symptoms,” the suit states.

Among those symptoms, Schretzman lists progressive symptoms of muscle twitching, pulmonary function decline, speech impairment and muscle loss. Seeking treatment for these same symptoms led to his ALS diagnosis from Dr. Quinn nearly three years ago.

For counts of negligence and loss of consortium, the plaintiff is seeking economic and non-economic compensatory damages, the amount of which is to be determined at trial, pre-judgment interest on all damages; costs and expenses, including reasonable attorney’s fees and expert fees; all such other and further relief as may be just, equitable and proper under the circumstances, including but not limited to punitive damages, in addition to a trial by jury.

The plaintiff is represented by Diana Nickerson Jacobs, Jason E. Luckasevic and Jason T. Shipp of Goldberg Persky & White P.C., of Pittsburgh.

Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas case 180200046

From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at

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