Ex-JU player sues university over head injuries

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A former Jacksonville University football player has filed a multimillion dollar lawsuit against the university alleging he suffered long-term brain damage from concussions because of misconduct and negligence by the university and its head athletic trainer.

According to a news release announcing the lawsuit, Jarrius Lindsey played football from 2011 to 2013.
During a spring scrimmage in 2012, Lindsey suffered a blow to the head from a defender, blacked out and lay motionless on the field.

Lindsey's lawyer said the concussion he suffered was life-threatening, but he was later allowed to return to play and suffered more concussions.

The lawsuit filed by Stuart attorney Willie Gary and Orlando attorney Charles Emanuel alleges flagrant violations, misconduct and negligence by the university, the sports medicine program and head athletic trainer Doug Frye that caused Lindsey to suffer long-term brain damage, including traumatic brain injury, major neurocognitive disorder, memory loss, insomnia, headaches, depression and anxiety.

“Jacksonville University took a calculated risk by not implementing the necessary safety precautions for student-athletes,” Gary said in a news release.

Among other things, the lawsuit contends that Frye incorrectly administered the concussion checklist test that was developed to assess the injured athlete’s mental status during the acute period after a concussion.

According to his attorneys, Lindsey had difficulty responding to questions and his reaction time was delayed.

“They just failed to evaluate him properly and allowed him to return to play without thoroughly making sure he was symptomatic free,” Emanuel said. “He subsequently suffered more concussions.”

The lawsuit argues that despite Lindsey’s repeated complaints of headaches, Frye never referred or recommended that Lindsey see a neurologist or a neuropsychologist for evaluation.

Despite the history of Lindsey’s concussions, injuries and reported headaches, which were disclosed at the time he was recruited to play for Jacksonville University, Frye never attempted to look further into the severity of his injuries, Lindsey's attorneys said.

“This is a student-athlete out on the football field, and they have a duty to properly evaluate him once he sustained a concussion,” Emanuel said.

According to JU football records, Lindsey had 48 yards rushing and 11 yards receiving in 2011 for the Dolphins. After a season-ending shoulder injury in 2012, he had seven yards rushing and four yards receiving in 2013.

JU issued a statement about the lawsuit:

"It is the policy of Jacksonville University not to comment on any pending legal matters.  The safety and welfare of students is of the highest importance to Jacksonville University, both for our student-athletes and for our general population. We take very seriously all issues related to the health, safety and well-being of our athletes, both on and off the field. Our outstanding professional personnel are highly skilled with many hours of preparatory training to ensure that safety is the No. 1 priority. They maintain a student-centered focus on safety at all times, in all aspects of their duties and responsibilities."

Jacksonville attorney Gene Nichols, who is not connected to the case, said the lawsuit will come down to a jury.

“JU is probably going to defend themselves with expert testimony to say, 'This is what we’re supposed to do in every situation, and it was followed to a T.' When that happens, you can expect the plaintiff's side to argue the steps weren’t followed,” Nichols said. “If that’s the case, if both sides are saying we did or we didn’t, then it’s going to make it to a jury, and it’s going to be a question of fact.”

The suit doesn’t specify how much money Lindsey is seeking other than to say it is a multimillion dollar lawsuit.

About the Author:

Scott Johnson

Specializes in Clay County issues, general assignment reporting and stories off the beaten path and anchors weekend evening newscasts.