Jun 11, 2015
Illini Soccer Player Sues School Claiming Concussion Mismanagement

A former soccer player at the University of Illinois has filed a lawsuit against the school for allegedly failing to follow protocol after she sustained a concussion. Casey Conine brought the suit, which seeks $50,000 in damages, claiming a head injury ended her athletic career.

According to an article in The New York Times, Conine sustained a concussion during a game in October of 2014 and claims that she finished the game without being checked on. After two days, she was diagnosed with a concussion, but alleges that, two weeks later, she was not cleared to play by a doctor but by athletic trainer Brittany Scott. By the university’s concussion guidelines, athletes must be cleared by a physician before returning to full-contact play. In the subsequent game, Conine played 65 minutes and headed the ball a number of times.

“I was nervous being out there because I knew I wasn’t 100 percent,” Conine told The Times. “But you feel like you can’t tell your coach, ‘I don’t think I should play.’ I was a player that was counted on, and I think that was a big part of it, too.”

After that game, Conine says she suffered from light sensitivity and headaches. Physicians diagnosed her with a concussion with a history of multiple concussions. When her symptoms didn’t subside, the university informed her that she would not be cleared to play, and she left school. When she tried to return, her headaches made studying difficult. She is currently in the process of withdrawing from Illinois.

Scott, Athletic Director Mike Thomas and Head Coach Janet Rayfield are all named as defendants in the suit, in addition to the athletic department, which declined to comment. This lawsuit comes amidst other allegations, in the Illinois football program and in the women’s basketball program, of emotional and physical abuse by coaches.

In a related trial at the federal level, a judge is considering a proposed settlement in a class-action head-injury lawsuit brought against the NCAA, which would include $70 million for medical screenings of former athletes and make tougher guidelines for returning to play.  

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