NFL Concussion Lawsuits
The National Football League (NFL) is under scrutiny as thousands of players are coming forward in a class action lawsuit claiming the league failed to inform players of the long-term health problems associated with concussions. The players also claim that they were encouraged to play thorough head injuries without appropriate care or recovery time.
According to reports from the Associated Press, 3,377 players have taken legal action and sued the NFL claiming that not only were they not informed of the dangers of head injuries, but that not enough has been done to take care of them after retiring. Of these players, 26 are Hall of Famers. There are 5,249 total plaintiffs in the case including spouses and other player representatives.
Separate lawsuits were consolidated into one master complaint and filed by the players’ lawyers in June of 2012, specifically claiming the NFL did not inform players about medical findings that link football-related head injuries to permanent brain injuries such as dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and an increased risk of suicidal behavior.
In response, the NFL asked a federal judge in August of 2012 to dismiss the more than 100 lawsuits, claiming that the case should instead be resolved according to the league’s collective bargaining agreement. The NFL also argues that the lawsuits do not have sufficient proof that the league concealed the risks associated with head injuries.
There were a number of events that lead to the NFL concussion lawsuit in 2012. Some important dates include the following:
- 1994 – The NFL creates the Mild Traumatic Brain Injuries committee
- 2002 – NFL player Mike Webster dies at age 50. Webster suffered multiple concussions as a player and showed signs of dementia plus psychiatric illness late in his life. Bennet I. Omalu, M.D., discovers structural deformity in Webster’s brain – the first evidence of the danger of multiple concussions.
- 2004 – NFL player Justin Strzelczyk dies in an automobile accident caused by brain damage. His death began the discussion about football head injuries.
- June 2005 – Terry Long commits suicide. Doctors believe brain damage from multiple concussions contributed to his depression and suicide.
- July 2005 – Omalu publishes an article about his findings. The NFL MTBI committee’s doctors denounce the findings and demand he retract the article.
- 2006 – NFL player Andre Waters commits suicide. Omalu examines the brain tissue and determines Waters’ depression was caused by brain damage due to multiple concussions. The NFL declines to comment on the findings.
- March 2007 – The NFL puts into place the “88 Plan” to provide financial support to former players suffering from dementia. Dr. Elliot Pellman, head of the NFL’s MTBI, also resigns.
- 2008 – Four more former NFL players die. Tom McHale from an accidental drug overdose, Gerald Small, Curtis Whitley from a drug overdose, and John Grimsley from an accidental gunshot wound.
- 2009 – Then still-active NFL player Chris Henry dies in an auto accident at age 26. It was later found that Henry suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy due to multiple concussions, the first still-active NFL player to have it. Former player Lou Creekmur dies from complications of dementia.
- October 2009 – The US. House Judiciary Committee convenes hearings on legal issues and football head injuries
- December 2009 – Return-to-play rules for players that sustain concussions and head injuries are changed
- 2011 – Former NFL player Dave Duerson commits suicide
From football to boxing and any other athletic event, brain injuries are very serious and could be detrimental to one’s life. Further studies will inevitably be conducted on this topic, revealing more about the long-term effects of concussions and head injuries.
Carlos is a blogger who has written for brain injury lawyer websites. He is interested in the effects of brain injuries as well as ways to prevent them.