La Salle to pay brain injured footballer $7.5 million

Posted: November 30, 2009

La Salle University has agreed to pay $7.5 million to settle a lawsuit filed on behalf of a former football player who suffered serious brain injuries in a game after sustaining a concussion in practice a month earlier.

The suit contended that substandard medical attention by La Salle personnel was responsible for allowing Preston Plevretes to play despite the earlier concussion. The team did not refer Plevretes to a physician despite persistent complaints of headaches, the suit alleged.

Plevretes, of Marlboro, N.J., was a 19-year-old sophomore linebacker when the Explorers played against Duquesne University on Nov. 5, 2005.

During the fourth quarter of the game, Plevretes ran to cover a punt and was hit by a hard block. As he tried to make a tackle, a Duquesne player slammed his helmet into Plevretes ear hole. The impact cause his brain to swell which then caused it to herniate, a condition known as Second Impact Syndrome, according to the suit.

Plevretes' brain was so swollen that doctors at Mercy Hospital in Pittsburgh had to remove part of his skull.

On Oct 4, 2005, a month earlier, Plevretes suffered a concussion when he collided head to head with another player during team practice. A school nurse advised him to rest and take Tylenol for the pain. A week later, she declared him symptom free.

A trial had been scheduled to begin today in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court.

Plevretes, now 23, needs constant 24-hour care. He has trouble walking and speaking and communicates by typing, said his attorney Shanin Specter.

"It's now four years post injury, and he's not likely to make much more of a recovery," Specter said. "His short term memory is poor. Ask him to read a list of three words, and five minutes later he can't remember them."

La Salle, which started a football program in 1996, discontinued the sport in 2007.

In settling the suit, La Salle did not admit any wrong doing.


Contact staff writer Sam Wood at 215-854-2796 or at samwood@phillynews.com.

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