Jones Day's Matt Kairis recognized as Sports & Entertainment Trailblazer by National Law Journal
The National Law Journal has named Matt Kairis, a partner in Jones Day's Business & Tort Litigation Practice and Partner-in-Charge of the Firm's Texas Region, to its list of Sports & Entertainment Trailblazers for 2020. Through the various Trailblazers special supplements, the NLJ recognizes movers and shakers in the legal industry who have made significant practice, policy, and technological advancements in their areas of law.
Mr. Kairis is blazing a trail in the new area of concussion litigation and helping to make law concerning the treatment of such cases, including how courts weigh statute of limitations defenses and fairness concerns for injuries that student-athletes sustained decades ago.
As a former football player (a linebacker at Notre Dame), Mr. Kairis serves as lead counsel for all collegiate institutions in the national football concussion multidistrict litigation pending in the Northern District of Illinois, a consolidation of more than 450 class actions against NCAA institutions. Plaintiffs allege that colleges and the NCAA failed to warn football players of the adverse effects of concussions, and challenges conduct since 1952. Mr. Kairis also directly represents dozens of the universities named as defendants. Four "bellwether" cases are moving forward to test plaintiffs' class action theories. He is also advising numerous collegiate sports programs in developing and implementing concussion protocols across the entire array of collegiate athletics.
Additionally, Mr. Kairis represents schools in state court single-plaintiff concussion actions ranging from Hawaii to the Midwest to the South. He delivered oral argument in the Ohio Supreme Court in what led to the first binding precedent on the application of the statute of limitations discovery rule in concussion cases. He also represents Penn State in three separate football-related actions: a whistleblower action brought by the former team physician alleging improper influence by the football program, a wrongful discharge action brought by the former head football trainer, and an alleged hazing action brought by a former football team member. In May and June 2020, Mr. Kairis secured the dismissal of two of these suits. He previously led a high-profile investigation following a videographer's fatal accident during football practice at Notre Dame, and assisted that university on matters related to its move from the Big East Conference to the Atlantic Coast Conference for non-football athletics.