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Latest Concussion Lawsuit Targets Teams

2012 June 27
by Paul D. Anderson Consulting, LLC

Until now, none of the 93 concussion-related lawsuits named a Club as a defendant. A lawsuit filed yesterday in Hillsborough County, Florida, is the first to specifically target several Clubs.

The lawsuit includes four former players; the most notable player is four-time Pro Bowler, Jimmie Giles. The other three players – Donald Smith, Calvin Woods and Arron Sears – each played less than three years. Sears has been arrested several times since being released by the Buccaneers. Sears’ lawyer will probably argue that his mental-health issues were caused by football-related injuries.

In addition to naming the NFL, NLF Properties, and Riddell Helmets, the plaintiffs name the Buccaneers, Lions, Bills, Dolphins, Eagles and Titans as defendants — all of whom were the plaintiffs former employer.

The plaintiffs are represented by former-player-turned-lawyer, Charles E. Emanuel. Emanuel was a defensive back in the NFL for one year and then went on to law school, earning his J.D. from Florida Coastal School of Law.

Prior to this suit, the plaintiffs’ lawyers purposefully refrained from naming the Clubs as a defendant. Primarily because it gives rise to a strong argument that the lawsuit is barred by workers’ compensation.

NFL players are employees of the team in which they play for; as part of this employer-employee relationship, workers’ compensation is generally the exclusive remedy for work-related injuries. In other words, employees give up the right to sue in exchange for workers’ compensation benefits (i.e. if you are injured on the job, you are entitled to benefits regardless of fault.)

However, there is an exception to the exclusive-remedy rule, which may allow an employee to sue his employer if the injury was intentional (i.e. fraud, battery, etc.). Here, the players are arguing that the Clubs purposefully misled the players about the long-term risks about concussions. Of course, this will be very difficult to prove unless the proverbial “smoking gun” memo is found during the discovery process.

The NFL may also use the exclusive-remedy argument later down the road, but the NFL’s argument isn’t as strong because it is not the employer of the players.

This lawsuit will eventually be consolidated with the multidistrict litigation in Philadelphia, but it will be interesting to see if any other lawyers decide to follow suit and name a Club as a defendant.

 

6 Responses leave one →
  1. Todd McTodd permalink
    June 27, 2012

    Are you going to post a copy of the complaint? That would be terrific. Thanks.

  2. Justin permalink
    June 27, 2012

    This is getting to be out of hand. How can they prove any of this nonsense? These guys got paid a fortune to play a game for 1/2 of the year. I would get laughed at if I tried to file a lawsuit from my employer of 15 years because my hands hurt from typing on a keyboard. I am waiting for the first class action lawsuit from former cheerleaders. I am really sick of the NFL and commisioner’s godlike ways. This is just as bad though.

  3. Alan Bigham permalink
    June 28, 2012

    Any info on Calvin Woods’ NFL career? Seems to be some confusion on Dolphins boards as to why they have been listed in this.

    I don’t recognise the name – maybe he was in camp one year and cut before the final roster.

    It would be too east to make light of this issue and suggest one of the players couldn’t remember which teams they had played for …

    • Paul Anderson © permalink*
      June 28, 2012

      I can’t find any info on him either. I presume he was on a practice squad but never played in an NFL game.

  4. Steve777 permalink
    July 5, 2012

    joe bloggs July 4, 2012 at 12:02 #

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    Broken,

    Lots of good researchers who should have been recruited to drive this science forward were bypassed for let’s say promoters and spinners who had a degree of scientific flexibility or pure incompetence to muddy the issue with pure nonsense. The usual suspects who were well represented and compensated to blather equivocations rather than search for the truth. The NFL and the NFLPA committees are dominated by the same people who caused the problem.

    Kutner (clinician), Barr, Randolph (who I think is a Luddite but has good reputation as a clinician) and others were booted for screening and treating NFL players for their opinions and their unwillingness to rely on Impact to baseline players. These clinicians wanted to do their best, report their findings, and treat their patients. For this, these fellows and others, were fired and replaced by handpicked lackeys.

    Don’t think this will get any better, the NFL and NFLPA claim to be supporting $100MM novel research but one can only suspect it the league and union lawyers will guide (under the false belief any findings will be bad for the lawsuits being pressed against although the last science class they passed was high school biology) the money to preferred researchers to ensure the experiments are designed to generate equivocal results sometime around 2020 or later. Their will be no independent oversight or independent thinking. One needs to look no further the concussion mess the CDC is promoting (I know Congress has directed their behavior but this is a national health issue and it is embarrassing) or these watered down concussion laws supported by NFL money to seriously question their ethics.

    If the NFL is serious, own up to the issue. Lots of pro-football players were injured due to football. Put the research under direction and oversight of former professional players. People who played in the league and own nothing to the union. Since it is their health that has been damaged and they love the game, they are likely to appoint the right people and get on with the job down. Further, all researchers and doctors who have been on the payroll over the last two decades should be excluded to the man. They failed and compromised themselves so they should be on their own. Finally, anyone with a law degree should banished from the process as they have agendas that have nothing to do with the health and well-being of football or athletes in general.

    Hopefully, the NFL reads this and realizes that not everyone is so gullible to buy into the spin that ultimately threatens contact sports through its mindless spin.
    Reply

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