It happens once every few years. An NFL player sues the doctors hired by the team to provide medical care.
Typically, the player claims that the doctors committed some type of malpractice in operating on an injury, or that the doctors manipulated a guy’s care to get him back on the field.
In the latest case of a lawsuit being filed by a player against a team, the claim is that doctors failed to notice that the player had a torn ACL, thereby preventing the player from getting the condition repaired and continuing his career.
The plaintiff in the present case is former Patriots safety Tebucky Jones. A first-round pick of the team in 1998, the Pats applied the franchise tag to Jones in 2003 and traded him to the Saints for multiple draft picks. After spending two years with the Saints and one with the Dolphins, Jones later returned to the Patriots, signing a two-year contract in 2006.
Jones claims that a leg injury suffered during the 2006 preseason was diagnosed only as a hamstring problem, even though two MRIs allegedly showed that he also had torn the ligament that holds together his knee.
“The biggest pain is I played for three teams and I respected New
England the most because I’m from New England,” Jones told the Boston Herald. “I got drafted from New
England. I won a Super Bowl with New England. I always respected New
England. That probably hurts the most.”
The suit doesn’t name the Patriots as a defendant, presumably because the labor agreement and/or workers’ compensation laws supersede any independent rights that Jones would have against the team.
Jones was placed on injured reserve for 2006, and he received his full salary from the team. When he was released the following year, he received $275,000, as required by the labor agreement.
So his primary measure of damages against the doctors will be the difference between his expected salary for 2007 and $275,000, plus anything he would have earned in 2008 or beyond.
Of course, it’s unknown whether Jones, 34, otherwise would have been able to play in 2007 or 2008.
Then again, he was still able to swing fists last August.