Pennsylvania Record

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Case of former college athlete suing NCAA for Lou Gehrig's disease heading to trial in January

State Court

By Nicholas Malfitano | Oct 3, 2019


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PHILADELPHIA – The case of a former college football linebacker who launched legal action against the NCAA, charging the governing sports body with negligence in not informing him of the dangers of repeated head trauma that led him to develop Lou Gehrig’s disease, is scheduled for a Philadelphia trial early next year.

Following a case management order issued by Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas Judge John M. Younge on Aug. 12, it directed that all discovery in this matter be completed by Sept. 2, a settlement conference would be scheduled subsequent to Oct. 7 and all counsel will file detailed pre-trial documentation prior to that same date. A pre-trial conference will be available for any date after Dec. 2, with an anticipated trial date of Jan. 6 of next year.

Charles Schretzman and Stacy Schretzman of Troy, Ohio, first filed suit in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas on Feb. 5, 2018 versus the NCAA, of Indianapolis.

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 said.

Citing an NCAA bylaw that states it is the duty of the organization to ensure the healthy participation of all athletes in its governance, Schretzman claimed 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 failed 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 stated.

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 four 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 plaintiffs are represented by Diana Nickerson Jacobs, Jason E. Luckasevic and Jason T. Shipp of Goldberg Persky & White P.C. in Pittsburgh, plus Eugene Egdorf of Shrader & Associates, in Houston.

The defendants are represented by Lewis W. Schlossberg, Laura E. Vendzules and Joel Michel of Blank Rome, in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas case 180200046

From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at nick.malfitano@therecordinc.com

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Blank Rome Goldberg Persky & White PC

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