Last August we discussed lawsuits brought by over 75 ex-football players against the National Football League. The players sought unspecified amounts of damages for head injuries sustained over the course of their careers. The players alleged that the NFL knew of the harmful effects of multiple concussions as early as the 1920s, but kept that information from players until 2010. Riddell, the helmet maker, was also named in the lawsuit as a defendant.
These lawsuits are still pending and a hearing was recently held in Miami to determine whether the cases, which were filed in various federal courts, including Atlanta, Miami, New York and Philadelphia, should be consolidated into a multidistrict region. One interesting issue in this case is the possibility that the NFL will claim that the terms of the collective bargaining agreement between the league and the players should apply to the players’ head injuries, thus requiring the players to seek compensation via more traditional outlets such as workers’ compensation and disability benefits and the NFL’s medical and long term care plans.
As explained in a Workforce.com article about this lawsuit, according to an attorney representing many of the players, the concussions and other head injuries suffered by the players were sustained in ways unrelated to typical workforce dangers:
While some players have been able to receive benefits for concussion-related injuries, McGlamry said player attorneys are seeking to prove, in part, that their clients face health problems due to negligence that extended beyond typical workplace hazards.
So, while the NFL would prefer to limit recovery by the injured players to more traditional venues, the players claim that the league negligently misled them by downplaying the risks of head injuries and minimizing the long term effects of concussion-related injuries and cognitive disorders.
The outcome of this case remains to be seen and it will likely be quite some time until this brain injury lawsuit winds its way through the court system and a resolution is reached. But, nevertheless, it is an important case and emphasizes the dangers of traumatic brain injuries and the risks associated with engaging in activities that tend to result in head injuries.
- Hall of Famer suing NFL over health problems (foxnews.com)
- NFL back Jones-Drew disparages head-injury reforms (sfgate.com)
- NFL questions validity of concussion lawsuits (espn.go.com)
- Head Cases: The NFL’s Anti-Concussion Super Bowl Ad (bleacherreport.com)