Field hockey player seeks to revive NCAA and UA concussion lawsuit

A former college field hockey player who won a $1.7 million verdict against the feds for her role in misdiagnosing her concussion will ask the DC Circuit to revive claims against the NCAA and the American University.

Jennifer Bradley will ask the United States Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit to overturn the trial court’s summary judgment ruling issued in May in favor of the university and the collegiate athletic association, according to a notice filed Aug. 26 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Judge Reggie B. Walton said Bradley failed to show that the actions of the athletic association were the immediate cause of his injury. He also dismissed her claims against American University because she signed an acknowledgment of risk form agreeing to hold the school harmless.

Walton, however, illuminated Bradley’s claims of negligent infliction of emotional distress and medical malpractice against the federal government under a theory of vicarious liability, based on the assertions that Aaron Williams, an active-duty Army doctor, misdiagnosed Bradley.

Walton issued judgment on July 28 in favor of Bradley on his medical malpractice claim against the government, ten months after a multi-day trial.

Bradley was a junior at UA in 2011 when she was hit in the head while playing in a field hockey game against the University of Richmond. Subsequently, she complained of problems with vision and concentration, as well as fatigue.

Evidence showed Williams breached the applicable standard of care by ruling out Bradley having had a concussion and failing to remove her from training and playing, Walton said.

Williams was a member of the Military Primary Care Sports Medicine Fellowship. As part of his fellowship, he worked for American University’s sports team physician.

Bradley also established that Williams’ violation caused his injuries, Walton said.

Based on his examination, Williams did not believe Bradley’s symptoms were consistent with a concussion, but he held Bradley out of the game for two days and diagnosed him with ethmoid sinusitis.

She was later diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome, dropped out of school in 2012 due to the injuries, and was treated for post-concussion deficits and depression, according to her complaint.

Paulson & Nace PLLC represents Bradley.

Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP and Schertler Onorato Mead & Sears LLP represent the NCAA.

Walker, Murphy & Nelson LLP represents American University.

The deal is Bradley vs. NCAADDC, n° 16-cv-00346, notice of appeal 08/26/22.

Catherine J. Martinez