Dec 18, 2015
Coach and AD Dismissed as Defendants in Illinois Concussion Suit

A judge dismissed two high-profile defendants in former women’s soccer player Casey Conine’s suit against the University of Illinois. Conine alleges that university personnel failed to follow protocol when she sustained multiple concussions, but Judge Jeffrey Ford has thrown out accusations against Head Coach Janet Rayfield and former Athletic Director Mike Thomas.

According to an article in The News-Gazette, Ford ruled that Athletic Trainers Brittany Scott and Paul Schmidt could still be held responsible and would remain defendants. Ford agreed that the waiver Conine signed, in which she accepted all risk for playing soccer, makes the coach and athletic director less liable. He also agreed with the university’s argument that Rayfield and Thomas had not been derelict in their duties.

“It is, however, a totally distinct event if one of the university defendants is negligent in the course of an action and breaches a duty owed to plaintiff, such as not providing on-site injury care and evaluation,” Ford’s ruling read.

Schmidt was also dismissed from the case in his role as Director of Sports Medicine but remains a defendant as Athletic Trainer. He has recently been demoted to Basketball Athletic Trainer at UI.

“The university is satisfied that the court found in favor of large portions of its motion to dismiss, including ruling that there was no basis for claims against former Director of Athletics Mike Thomas and Coach Janet Rayfield,” UI spokeswoman Robin Kaler wrote in an email. “We are confident that our sports medicine personnel, practices and policies currently provide a high level of care and support for student-athletes,” said.

Conine has 30 days to respond to the judge’s ruling. The suit alleges that she sustained a concussion in early October 2014 but was cleared to play two weeks later without an exam from a physician. She claims she may have suffered another concussion in that game. She was medically disqualified from play in December 2014.

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