Widow of deceased NFL football star sues NCAA over head injuries

By Sandra Lane | Sep 15, 2018

SAN DIEGO - The widow of former NFL and NCAA football player Jeffrey Staggs filed a wrongful death lawsuit on Aug. 27, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, naming the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) as defendant.

Sarah Staggs, represented by a team of attorneys, alleges that “the NCAA not only did not warn players of the risks of sustaining head injuries but also did not do enough to try and protect the players from suffering such injuries.”  

Before playing for the San Diego Chargers, Staggs played football at San Diego State University, where he experienced the first of several concussions, according to the lawsuit. 

After his death in 2014, an autopsy revealed that he suffered from a degenerative brain disease caused by repeated head injuries sustained while playing football, according to the lawsuit.


Jeffrey Staggs played for the San Diego Chargers and San Diego State University.  

As quoted in her petition to the court, Mrs. Staggs stated that she is “seeking redress for Jeffrey Staggs, who was injured, incapacitated, and died as a result of NCAA’s reckless disregard for his health and safety as a San Diego State University student-athlete.”

The complaint also stated that, “The repetitive head accelerations and hits to which Mr. Staggs was exposed presented risks of latent and long-term debilitating chronic illnesses. Absent the NCAA’s negligence and concealment, the risk of harm to Mr. Staggs would have been materially decreased, and Mr. Staggs would not have sustained debilitating mental health issues and died.”

Relief requested in the complaint includes an award for past medical expenses, litigation and attorney’s fees, other out of pocket expenses, lost time and interest, lost future earnings, death and other damages. 

The petition stated that, “Under principles of equity and good conscience, the NCAA should not be permitted to retain the profits received at the expense of Plaintiff, while refusing to pay for medical expenses incurred as a result of its unlawful misconduct or otherwise failing to prevent such injuries. Plaintiff seeks restitution and/or disgorgement of all monies the NCAA has unjustly received as a result of its misconduct alleged herein.” 

She has requested a jury trial. She is represented by attorneys Rafey Balabanian, Todd Logan, Jay Edelson, Jeff Raizner and Robert Dassow.

U.S. District Court Southern District of California. Case No. 18CVI1981L

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