In what's the first potential class-action lawsuit of its kind, seven former NFL players filed suit against the league today accusing it of "negligence and intentional misconduct in its response to the headaches, dizziness and dementia that former players have reported."
The players are seeking medical monitoring along with funds to pay for the care of injured players.
Until Aug. 4, when the league signed its collective-bargaining agreement with the NFL Players Association, "the defendant has continued to deny any connection or correlation between players suffering concussions and long-term chronic brain injury or illness," the suit states.
What's worse, the retired players and their wives say, is that the league actively concealed the causative connection between on-field concussions and brain injury.
In September 2009, the NFL disputed the results of its own study, which found that over 6 percent of retired players aged 50 and above experienced memory-related illnesses compared to 1.2 percent for comparably aged American men, according to the suit.
"The defendant's agents disputed these findings and continued the mantra in the press that there is no evidence connecting concussions, concussion like symptoms, NFL football and long-term brain illness or injury," according to the suit.
But the NFL didn't merely fail to prevent on-field concussions. It "failed to take reasonable steps to develop appropriate and necessary guidelines to recognize, diagnose and treat players with concussions," and it failed to develop a satisfactory "return-to-play" policy that would keep concussed players off the field until they could safely return, the suit says.
League flak Greg Aiello told Bloomberg via email that, "we have not seen the complaint but would vigorously contest any claims of this kind."
Filing suit were Jim McMahon (Bears), Charles Ray Easterling and Wayne Radloff (both formerly of the Falcons), Gerald Feehery (Eagles), Joseph E. Thomas (Browns), Steve Kiner (Cowboys) and Michael Thomas Furrey, who played for the Redskins through last season. They're seeking other players to join them.
For law types out there, the case is Easterling v. National Football League Inc., 11-05209, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia).
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