Over 2,000 former NFL players sued the league on Thursday claiming that it deliberately and fraudulently concealed the risk of brain injury from players. The complaint joined more than eighty lawsuits that were previously filed by former players.
The suit seeks unspecified financial compensation for fraud, misrepresentation and negligence against the NFL. The lawsuit remains open so that other players may still join. It also names Riddell Inc., the official NFL helmet maker, as a defendant and affiliated companies including Riddell’s parent corporation, Easton-Bell Sports Inc.
The filed complaint said, “The NFL and its agents continued to market, as it had in the past, the ferocity and brutality of the sport that, in part, gives rise to the latent and debilitating neurocognitive conditions and injuries from which plaintiffs suffer.”
The NFL formed its own Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee in 1994 to study the impact of concussions and sub-concussive injuries on players, but the league failed to inform players of the risks.
The suit also said, “”For 16 years, the NFL actively and continuously denied any link between MTBI … and the neurological symptoms and problems (such as headaches, dizziness, loss of memory, dementia and ALS) from which they (players) now suffer.”
The NFL stated that the lawsuit is groundless and calls attention to “numerous extensive benefits programs” for former players, including one that has disbursed $17.5 million to more than 200 players and their families. The NFL made a statement that, “The NFL has long made player safety a priority and continues to do so. Any allegation that the NFL sought to mislead players has no merit.”
One of the player’s lawyers said that the NFL programs are woefully inadequate and fail to provide medical monitoring and evaluations that retired players need. He also said that he believed this lawsuit will make the game safer and force the NFL and all sports leagues to reevaluate their return-to-play rules.
Retired players complain that the precautions against brain injuries have just recently been implemented and that players from decades past were exposed to long term neurological injuries. In the past two years, three retired NFL players have committed suicide by shooting themselves in the chest, one with a note requesting, “Please, see that my brain is given to the NFL’s brain bank.”
Pulgini & Norton, LLP attorneys have handled workers’ compensation claims for over 25 years in and around Boston and its surrounding areas. If you or a family member has been injured at work and would like to seek legal assistance, please contact us at (781) 843-2200 or (888) 344-2046 or email us.
Ex-NFL players join forces in brain injury suit, Reuters, June 7, 2012