Andrus Anderson Sues UC Demanding Better Concussion Protocols for Cheerleaders

Andrus Anderson LLP filed a case against the University of California and USA Cheer for failing to implement concussion protocols for collegiate cheerleaders on October 2, 2019 in California state court.  Plaintiff Melissa Martin, a former cheerleader at UC Berkeley, alleges her coaches bullied her into performing stunts even after she sustained her first serious concussion and that the University failed to take reasonable measures to prevent further brain injury.  As a result, Ms. Martin suffered three consecutive concussions, leading to potentially permanent brain injuries, forced academic leave from school, and lost tuition.  In her lawsuit, Ms. Martin seeks damages and asks the Court to order the University and the competitive cheer governing body, USA Cheer, to implement reasonable concussion protocols for collegiate cheerleaders.

“While there has been a lot of attention around concussion risks for young men in football, there has not been a corresponding level of concern about head injuries for young women participating in cheerleading programs,” said Ms. Martin’s attorney, Jennie Lee Anderson.  “The University of California should be leading the charge in concussion prevention, but instead, Ms. Martin’s coaches forced her to cheer when she was still recovering from a brain injury and the University did nothing about it.”

Modern-day cheerleading is athletic and competitive, involving human pyramids, high-flying basket tosses and tumbling.  But Ms. Martin alleges that the University treats its cheerleaders as merely entertainers.   Regarded as “half-letes,” the UC Cheerleaders are denied access to training equipment, safety protocols and medical care, which the UC provides to other athletes on the very teams they support.

The lawsuit, Martin v. The Regents of the University of California, et al., Case No. RG19037605 alleges that defendants were negligent and violated the state’s Student Athlete Bill of Rights and unfair competition law.  View the Complaint.

Attorneys Jennie Lee Anderson and Lori E. Andrus of Andrus Anderson LLP represent women in health and safety and employment discrimination matters.  Contact Andrus Anderson for more information about the case or to learn about your rights.