Blank Rome Successfully Represents NCAA in Final Appeal Sought before PA Supreme Court in Landmark Ex-Athlete Concussion Case
A Blank Rome team representing the National Collegiate Athletic Association (“NCAA”) successfully concluded the final appeal of the first and, to date, only NCAA football concussion case to go to trial anywhere in the country.
The matter of Onyshko vs. NCAA involved a former collegiate football player, and his wife, who asserted claims against the NCAA for injuries allegedly sustained as a result of the long-term effects of concussions and sub-concussive blows to the head from playing football. On September 1, 2021, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania denied the plaintiffs’ petition for allowance of appeal in which the plaintiffs sought a new trial after a May 2019 defense verdict for the NCAA following a four-week jury trial.
The matter attracted significant local and national media coverage both before and during trial. Following seven hours of deliberation, the jury, in a landmark verdict, found the NCAA “not negligent.” The plaintiffs thereafter filed a motion for post-trial relief, seeking a new trial on numerous grounds. After the trial court denied the plaintiffs’ motion in a 47-page opinion, the plaintiffs appealed to the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, which affirmed the trial court’s opinion and adopted it as its own. The plaintiffs subsequently filed a motion for rehearing en banc with the Superior Court, which was denied, leaving the plaintiffs with only the possibility of a discretionary appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. With the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's denial of the petition for allowance of appeal, judgment for the NCAA will become final, marking the end of an eight-year lawsuit that began in 2013.
The Blank Rome trial team included Arthur W. Hankin, Laurence S. Shtasel, and Lewis W. Schlossberg, and was assisted by David M. Jacobson and Joel Michel.