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Flurry of Concussion Lawsuits Strike the NFL

2012 January 10
by Paul Anderson

Over the past 6 months the NFL was rocked with a flurry of concussion-related lawsuits. As of January 18, 2012, a total of 17 lawsuits have been filed against the NFL.

  • 1) Pear v. NFL (Sept.12) CA
  • 2) Barnes v. NFL (Oct. 4) CA
  • 3) Maxwell v. NFL (Sept. 12) CA
  • 4) Easterling v. NFL (Oct. 6) E.D. Penn
  • 5) Hardman v. NFL (Oct. 13; voluntarily dismissed)
  • 6) Finn v. NFL (Dec. 5) NJ
  • 7) Jacobs v. NFL (Dec. 20) NY-Manhattan
  • 8) Levens v. NFL (Dec. 21) ATL
  • 9) Lewis v. NFL (Dec. 21) ATL
  • 10) Stewart v. NFL (Dec. 21) ATL
  • 11) Kuykendall v. NFL (Dec. 21) ATL
  • 12) Jones v. NFL (Dec. 22) MIA
  • 13) Boyd v. NFL  (Jan. 9 ) E.D. Penn
  • 14) Rucker v. NFL (Dec. 27) NY
  • 15) Dronett v. NFL (Jan. 9) ATL
  • 16) Austin v. NFL (Jan. 9) ATL
  • 17) Ron Solt v. NFL (Jan. 18) E.D. Penn

The lawsuits allege essentially the same facts and assert the same counts: medical monitoring, negligence, fraud, fraudulent concealment, negligent misrepresentation, and loss of consortium.  In addition, Finn v. NFL includes an allegation regarding the administration of Toradol.

Among the 17 lawsuits filed, Dronett v. NFL is the first wrongful death action, as a result of a suicide, filed against the NFL . Although it pleads primarily the same facts, the action is brought on behalf of former NFL player Shane Dronett’s surviving spouse, Christine Dronett.

According to the complaint, Shane Dronett died on January 21, 2009 as a result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. A related article regarding Shane’s death and the events leading up to his suicide can be found here.

Due to the substantial amount of lawsuits filed against the NFL, the NFL has requested that all actions be transferred and consolidated in front of a Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (MDL). Several of the Plaintiffs have joined in the NFL’s Motion to Transfer to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania to be assigned to Judge Anita Brody.

The Eastern District of Pennsylvania is where the leading class action, Easterling v. NFL, was filed and which Judge Brody is currently presiding. According to the NFL’s MDL Motion, the Eastern District of Pennsylvania is the most convenient forum for all interested parties (save Riddell Helmets, opposing the MDL motion—next blog post)

The polestar for an MDL is judicial economy and to prevent several different and perhaps conflicting rulings to occur throughout the District Courts. An MDL will allow all pre-trial discovery and motions to be heard in front of a Panel and is used to prevent duplicative rulings on the same common questions of fact and law.

The potential MDL has been assigned the case name, In Re: National Football League Players’ Concussion Injury Litigation, and the MDL Docket Number is 2323.

A ruling on the NFL’s Motion to Transfer to an MDL will likely be granted, and a hearing is scheduled for January 26, 2012.

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