Ohio Supreme Court Allows CTE Lawsuit To Move Forward

Nov 1, 2018

The Ohio Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that a lawsuit against the University of Notre Dame and the NCAA may go forward in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court. The estate of a former Notre Dame football player is suing over head injuries he suffered more than 40 years ago.

Steve Schmitz and his wife Yvette filed suit in 2014 after the Cleveland Clinic diagnosed him with Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), which causes dementia. He died in early 2015. 

At issue is whether they filed their suit within Ohio’s two year statute of limitations. The clock starts ticking when the injury is discovered. 

Notre Dame’s attorney Matt Kairis argued to the high court in April that Schmitz needed to file suit within two years of being injured, while he was playing in the 1970s, “and instructed by his coaches to use his helmeted head as a weapon to injure himself and injure others. He experienced disorientation as to time and to place. He didn’t know where he was; he didn’t know what day it was.”

But Schmitz’s attorney David Langfitt told the high court that Schmitz didn’t realize the impact of his injuries. He argued the two year limitation started when the more serious, latent disease was discovered.

“This is a latent disease case. CTE is the signature latent disease of football,” Langfitt said.

The high court largely agreed and remanded the case back to the lower court, noting that more needs to be determined about when the injuries were first realized.

More than 100 lawsuits against the NCAA over similar injuries are pending in a federal court in Chicago.