(NewsNation) — Oct. 21 marked the beginning of Alana Gee’s wrongful death lawsuit against the NCAA, in what is an attempt to hold the organization accountable for the 2018 death of her husband, Matt Gee, who played linebacker for the University of Southern California from 1988 to 1992.
While just the second charge of its nature to be brought against the NCAA, the case has the potential to be a landmark trial, as it could be the first to reach a jury.
Another added element pertinent to the unfolding of this trial that was absent in the NCAA’s $1.2 million settlement with Division III Frostburg (Maryland) State fullback Derek Sheely in 2016, is newly published research directly associating football with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
Published this summer, the study found conclusive evidence that CTE is caused by repeated head trauma.
“This is definitely an issue of prevention, but we also have to know this is a litigation,” Dr. Corey Hebert of the LSU School of Medicine said on “NewsNationLive” Wednesday. “Especially since the 41 doctors, 41 scientists, from the National Institute of Health have established a definite cause of link.”
Alana Gee’s attorneys have argued that when her late husband played at USC, he suffered multiple concussions and was not warned about the long-term impact, effects and risks of CTE.
While the original cause of Matt Gee’s death was attributed to a combination of the toxic effects of drugs and alcohol along with obesity, he was later diagnosed with CTE after his wife donated his brain to Boston University’s CTE center.
The defense, however, stands on the fact that no one could have warned Matt Gee — or any football player — officially until 2005, when CTE was first found in a football player.
“So, is there a duty to warn?” Hebert asked. “Let’s be very clear here — is there a duty to warn someone when you don’t know something exists? That’s where the rubber hits the road here.”
However, despite the NFL acknowledging the football-CTE link — which was back in 2016, before the conclusive research findings — the NCAA has yet to come out and formally acknowledge the relationship between the sport and the disorder.
According to Hebert, however, it may soon be hard to ignore.
“Now that we have established this cause of link, there are other organizations that are going to fight this — especially the organizations over there with soccer — and there is going to be an uproar in American society, as we love football and contact sports,” Hebert said.
Alana Gee is seeking $1.8 million in damages.