Former student athlete files lawsuit against Notre Dame, Brian Kelly
Observer Staff Report | Friday, September 8, 2017
Former Notre Dame football player Douglas Randolph filed a lawsuit against Notre Dame, head football coach Brian Kelly, football trainer Rob Hunt, several doctors and others Sept. 1 alleging the football team’s medical staff withheld information from him, leading to spinal stenosis.
According to the complaint filed in the St. Joseph Circuit Court, Randolph is suing for damages on the counts of negligence, negligent misrepresentation and fraudulent concealment.
The complaint said Randolph — a member of the Notre Dame football team during the 2014 and 2015 seasons — began to experience numbness in his upper extremities after being hit during a September 2015 practice. Randolph reported these symptoms to Hunt, who had him rest for two minutes before returning to the practice with continuing numbness.
Despite complaining of worsening symptoms and undergoing MRI scans, Randolph was assured by both Hunt and team doctors that the scans had not revealed any problems and it was safe for him to continue play, according to the complaint. The lawsuit alleges that Randolph was never showed these results, which would have ended his career and avoided “all subsequent injuries and permanent damage he has endured.”
Following the advice of the team trainer and doctors — who “continued to stress that it was safe for him to play” — Randolph played in every game of the 2015 season, including the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 1, 2016, the lawsuit said.
According to the complaint, rather than preventing Randolph from doing further damage to his neck by continuing to play, a team doctor — referred to as Dr. Doe A in the complaint — prescribed Randolph an anti-inflammatory steroid in September of 2015, which resulted in side effects that forced him to stop taking the steroid in October.
In January 2016, after experiencing “complete numbness in all four extremities” on multiple occasions, Randolph was informed by another doctor that he had spinal stenosis of the C4 and C6 vertebra in his neck — “a debilitating condition that ultimately cannot be cured” — and told he could never play football again, according to the lawsuit.
The complaint claims Hunt and the team doctors were aware that Randolph should not have been cleared to play after his initial scan in September of 2015.
University vice president of public affairs and communications Paul Browne said in an email that the University is confident the team trainers and doctors acted appropriately in this case.
“We will respond in full to these claims in court, but what we can say with certainty is that nothing is more important to Notre Dame than the safety and well-being of our students,” he said. “With that in mind, we believe our athletics doctors and trainers are second to none and we are completely confident that these health-care professionals provided proper medical care to the plaintiff in this case. We are equally confident that the allegations made in this lawsuit are baseless.”