Kenneth Goldblatt | October 20, 2018 | Personal Injury
I a long anticipated law suit, former professional football players filed a lawsuit against the National Football League (NFL) for its actions and inactions in withholding information about the dangers and consequences of concussions and brain injuries from its players and in failing to take necessary action to protect the health and safety of its players was finally commenced in California.
Former professional football players are suing the National Football League alleging the league knew as early as the 1920s of the harmful effects of concussions on players’ brains, but concealed the information from players, coaches, trainers and others until June 2010.
The players “did not know the long-term effects of concussions” and relied on the NFL to protect them, the suit says.
The lawsuit also names as a defendant the football equipment maker Riddell Inc., which has been the official NFL helmet brand since 1989.
“For decades, defendants have known that multiple blows to the head can lead to long-term brain injury, including memory loss, dementia, depression and CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) and its related symptoms,” says the 86-page lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Tuesday.
“This action arises from the defendants’ failure to warn and protect NFL players such as plaintiffs against the long-term brain injury risks associated with football-related concussions. This action arises because the NFL defendants committed negligence by failing to exercise its duty to enact league-wide guidelines and mandatory rules regulating post-concussion medical treatment and return-to-play standards for players who suffer a concussion and/or multiple concussions.”
The 75 former players accuse the NFL of engaging in “a scheme of fraud and deceit” by having members of the NFL’s Brain Injury Committee “deny knowledge of a link between concussion and cognitive decline and claim that more time was needed to reach a definitive conclusion on the issue.”
“When the NFL’s Brain Injury Committee anticipated studies that would implicate causal links between concussion and cognitive degeneration it promptly published articles producing contrary findings, although false, distorted and deceiving, as part of the NFL’s scheme to deceive Congress, the players and the public at large,” the suit says.
“The defendants acted willfully, wantonly, egregiously, with reckless abandon, and with a high degree of moral culpability,” the former players charge in court documents.
The suit notes that in 1994, the NFL studied concussion research through funding the NFL Committee on Mild Traumatic Brain Injury. The committee’s published findings in 2004 showed “no evidence of worsening injury or chronic cumulative effects” from multiple concussions, the suit says. In addition, in a related study, the committee found that “many NFL players can be safely allowed to return to play” on the day of a concussion, if they are without symptoms and cleared by a doctor.
However, “it was not until June 2010 that the NFL acknowledged that concussions can lead to dementia, memory loss, CTE and related symptoms by publishing (a) warning to every player and team,” says the suit.
“The NFL-funded study is completely devoid of logic and science. More importantly, it is contrary to their (the NFL’s) Health and Safety Rules as well as 75 years of published medical literature on concussions,” according to the suit, which asks for a jury trial for compensatory and punitive damages.
Even when the warning was issued, the NFL did not warn any past players, including the plaintiffs, or the public of “the long-term brain injury caused by concussions,” the suit says.
“By failing to exercise its duty to enact reasonable and prudent rules to protect players against the risks associated with repeated brain trauma, the NFL’s failure to exercise its independent duty has led to the deaths of some, and brain injuries of many other former players, including plaintiffs,” the lawsuit says.