Haruki Nakamura, who played defensive back for five seasons with the Baltimore Ravens and Carolina Panthers, had his career cut short when he suffered a debilitating concussion during a game in 2013. Now he’s suing an insurance company that is refusing to pay out a policy that was supposed to insure him in the event of a career-ending injury.
According to the lawsuit, Nakamura purchased a $1 million policy from Lloyd’s of London that was to be paid out if he was ever injured so badly that he could not continue playing NFL football. Nakamura alleges that the insurance company wriggled out of its responsibility to honor the policy by first attempting to bury him under a mountain of bureaucracy and paperwork, and then by relying on the dubious medical opinion of a handpicked doctor.
Nakamura claims that he suffered from post-concussion symptoms in the weeks and months following his concussion, and was diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome by a specialist at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, who determined that Nakamura showed “no hope of improvement sufficient to participate ever again as a professional football player.” Nakamura’s symptoms were also deemed serious by the NFL, which awarded him “total and permanent disability” benefits upon his retirement.
Nakamura’s lawsuit states that when he attempted to recoup his policy from Lloyd’s of London, he was stonewalled at every turn. The suit alleges that the insurance company strung him along for two years before eventually forcing him to meet with a medical examiner of the company’s choosing. This doctor, according to the suit, determined that Nakamura is indeed fit to play football, but also cautioned that he should consider the “probable longterm effects of repetitive concussions” should he return to the field.
You don’t need to know much about concussions to see how slimy this alleged behavior is. Concussions aren’t a physical impediment to getting back on the field the same way a torn ACL or a ripped-up shoulder are, and Nakamura is probably technically capable of playing in an NFL game right now. But it would take either a Herculean commitment to being dumb or dishonest or having a lot of money on the line to believe that post-concussion syndrome and the risk of of long-term brain damage that comes with it doesn’t qualify as a career-ending injury. Unfortunately for Nakamura, insurance companies specialize in being dishonest.
You can read the entire suit below: