Last Friday, former Notre Dame linebacker Douglas Randolph filed a lawsuit against Notre Dame, Brian Kelly, head Notre Dame football trainer Rob Hunt, and a handful of doctors, alleging that the Notre Dame football and training staff deliberately concealed a serious spinal injury from him, which he played with and eventually saddled him with a chronic injury after he was declared medically ineligible. The Indianapolis Star first reported on the lawsuit, and a copy of the complaint can be found below.
Randolph played two seasons with the Fighting Irish, most of it on special teams. He says that he started to feel numb in his extremities after taking a hit in practice in September 2015, but that Hunt shrugged it off, sending him back into drills after a two-minute break. Randolph says his symptoms continued to worsen, and eventually, he went in for an MRI. However, according to the suit, Randolph never got to see the results from the MRI and Notre Dame withheld the news that he’d suffered what should have been a potentially career-ending injury. Doctors reassured him that he was okay, so he played the 2015-16 season.
He played with the aid of an anti-inflammatory drug for a month, although he quickly stopped after side effects such as “irritability, difficulty focusing, and difficulty sleeping, as well as extreme bouts of aggressive behavior” forced him to stop. Randolph says he went completely numb in all four extremities during the 2016 Fiesta Bowl game against Ohio State, but coaches and trainers forced him to keep playing. After the season ended, he consulted another doctor who diagnosed him with spinal stenosis, which is a chronic spinal injury. Another physician told him he has “possible if not probable” permanent nerve damage.
Randolph spoke with Notre Dame officials about his condition and he was officially medically barred from playing for the team in February 2016. He was allowed to keep his scholarship but wouldn’t be permitted to play football anymore. Randolph visited a neurologist, who reviewed his previous scans and concluded that “based upon those scans … he should not have been cleared for play following his September MRI.” Randolph was advised “never to play football again.” He says that his life is a painful struggle now as a result of the injury.
Randolph is suing Notre Dame, Kelly, and the others for negligence, fraudulent concealment, and punitive damages. He did not specify an amount, but he requested compensation for future medical bills and “mental anguish and emotional distress.” According to St. Joseph County Circuit Court records, subpoenas went out to the defendants on Tuesday. A Notre Dame rep declined to comment on the suit.