Two former Nittany Lions are making sure their names are not associated with a class-action suit that names Penn State as a co-defendant.
On Tuesday, law firm Edelson PC announced that three former Penn State football players had filed a concussion-related class-action lawsuit against the university, the NCAA and the Big Ten. The suit was released in a “first wave” of six separate suits involving former players suing various combinations of their respective universities, conferences and the NCAA.
However, two of those former players have since elected to have their names withdrawn from the suit and have issued statements that they do not support it, especially its inclusion of Penn State.
In the court documents released by the firm, Robert Samuels, a former defensive back who played for Penn State from 1988-89, Eric Ravotti, a linebacker from 1990-94, and James Boyd, a safety from 1997-2001, alleged that they suffer with “deficits in cognitive functioning” as a result of one or more concussions suffered while playing for the Nittany Lions.
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But in the hours after the release of the documents, Boyd moved to have his name withdrawn and released a statement that he did not support the suit or wish to be involved in any capacity.
“I have requested that my name be removed from a class-action lawsuit filed recently against Penn State, the Big Ten conference and the NCAA by a Chicago attorney,” he said. “When I was contacted about joining this action, I was not made aware that either Penn State or the Big Ten conference would be a party to the suit and neither was named in the paperwork that I signed. I did not intend, and do not support, inclusion of the university in this suit.”
Boyd said he was “ keenly aware of the evidence of long-term damage from concussions,” but pointed to high standards of care and coaching at Penn State. “To describe it as anything else, would be incorrect and misleading. I will continue to monitor and study concussive effects of football but will not be a party to this action against Penn State, which was instrumental in my development as an athlete and a person,” he said.
On Wednesday, Ravotti also distanced himself from the case, disavowing the document’s allegations that he suffers from “deficits in cognitive functioning.”
Ravotti also said in an email to the Centre Daily Times that he was “unaware of any association with the case” until he saw his name in a previous article.
“I have absolutely no interest in joining any lawsuit which attempts to defame Penn State University,” he said. “I have not given direction, nor executed anything authorizing myself to be involved in this suit in any way. I was contacted by an attorney who saw my name on a list of players and wanted to discuss the case, but the case was never explained and he was never given any direction to proceed.”
Ravotti said he was severely misrepresented.
“Currently, I do not suffer from any ‘cognitive functioning, such as memory and mood swings’ (as written in the suit filings) and find this statement utterly ridiculous in my case,” he said. “I do have concerns about the many concussions I had during my playing days, but that is something I will deal with if it ever happens in the future. To suggest this when it is a statement that I have never made, is utterly ridiculous.
“I cherished my time at Penn State and would never attempt to detract from this experience. I valued my time when I was there and still do today on my many visits to the school and the games. This misrepresentation is one that is in the process of being corrected. I have asked this attorney for the suit against the NCAA to remove my name from this suit as I had never agreed to join in the first place.”
Jay Edelson, founder of Edelson PC and the lead on the filing and the other class-action suits announced Tuesday, said in a statement that he was “troubled to hear reports that Mr. Ravotti and Mr. Boyd suggested that they were unaware that we were including Penn State in the class-action lawsuit we filed over concussion-related symptoms. Our team would, of course, never file a lawsuit without a very clear understanding that our clients saw any proposed complaint, understood our strategy, and wished to undertake the solemn duties required to lead a case of this magnitude.”
Edelson added that Samuels would still be involved in the suit and that Boyd and Ravotti would be removed.