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Concussions lawsuits are expected to be combined into one case

Colt McCoy, James Harrison AP

Over the past several months, a rash of lawsuits has been filed against the NFL regarding the impact of concussions and the alleged failure of the NFL to properly warn players of the risks and/or to protect players from repeated blows to the head.

Moving forward, those cases likely will be combined into one.

A ruling in that regard is expected today, according to Adam H. Beasley of the Miami Herald.  The NFL has asked the United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation to consolidate all cases and refer the combined lawsuit to Philadelphia for pre-trial proceedings.  The lawyer representing many of the plaintiffs in the cases expects the league’s wish to be granted.

The league continues to deny any and all potential liability.  “The NFL has long made player safety a priority and continues to do so,” league spokesman Greg Aiello told the Herald.  “Any allegation that the NFL intentionally sought to mislead players has no merit.  It stands in contrast to the league’s actions to better protect players and advance the science and medical understanding of the management and treatment of concussions.”

That’s fine, but here’s the reality.  The litigation process could reveal evidence on which a reasonable jury could conclude that, for some period of time, the NFL knew things about the risks of concussions and failed to disclose them to the players or their union.  Likewise, there could evidence to indicate that, for a period of time after the risks were disclosed to players, the NFL failed to do enough to properly protect its players.

Working against the players will be the commonsensical reaction from many potential jurors that:  (1) anyone with a brain knows or should have known that repeated blows to the brain aren’t a good thing; (2) the players were compensated for assuming that and other risks; and (3) even if they knew the risks, they still would have played football.

In the end, the rights and responsibilities will be determined not by reality or common sense but by the evidence submitted by the parties and the arguments made by the lawyers.  Sympathy could drive the ultimate decision, as could cynicism.

It will be months if not years until this one is resolved, and most football fans won’t care.  However, as more changes to the game are made in order to enhance player safety, rest assured that the league is trying hard to avoid similar lawsuits in the future.

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8 Responses to “Concussions lawsuits are expected to be combined into one case”
  1. raven410 says: Jan 26, 2012 2:12 PM

    Colt Mccoy still thinks he’s playing the Steelers..That’s pretty sad. Nice job Shurmur!

  2. bigjdve says: Jan 26, 2012 2:31 PM

    A couple things.

    1. The NFL should use all tapes and statements where players admit that they are trying to hurt other players. This will show that the players aren’t really all that concerned about the each other.

    2. They should also show, how through the years, players have CHOSEN to wear less and less padding. A good example of this was with the Ravens / Patriots game where the announcers were talking about how alot of players have stopped using leg, hip, and thigh pads.

    3. They could and should also show how when they are trying to rectify problems that they players fight them on it, as evidenced by the players today (james Harrison comes to mind) that say that the league is ruining football.

    4. Let’s take simple physics, you beat something it will break down.

    5. Long term effects can be random, and are likely different with people, so it could be hard to determine exactly what they would be.

    6. The players would play anyway, the players that say differently now are the players that are either trying to get a handout or just wish they could be playing still.

    7. I think that you are wrong the fans will care, because if this frivolous law suit is won by the players all football related items prices will go up.

  3. jenniferxxx says: Jan 26, 2012 2:44 PM

    Did the NFL really have to warn players that getting hit in the head wasn’t good for them?

  4. nejerseygirl says: Jan 26, 2012 3:37 PM

    bigjdve says: Jan 26, 2012 2:31 PM
    A couple things.

    1. The NFL should use all tapes and statements where players admit that they are trying to hurt other players. This will show that the players aren’t really all that concerned about the each other.

    2. They should also show, how through the years, players have CHOSEN to wear less and less padding. A good example of this was with the Ravens / Patriots game where the announcers were talking about how alot of players have stopped using leg, hip, and thigh pads.

    3. They could and should also show how when they are trying to rectify problems that they players fight them on it, as evidenced by the players today (james Harrison comes to mind) that say that the league is ruining football.

    4. Let’s take simple physics, you beat something it will break down.

    5. Long term effects can be random, and are likely different with people, so it could be hard to determine exactly what they would be.

    6. The players would play anyway, the players that say differently now are the players that are either trying to get a handout or just wish they could be playing still.

    7. I think that you are wrong the fans will care, because if this frivolous law suit is won by the players all football related items prices will go up.
    ________________

    Disclaimer: I am not defending the NFL, nor am I defending the players. I am simply stating facts based on what you’ve laid out above.

    1. The NFL using tapes of players saying they don’t care about hurting other players will probably work against them… especially if they’ve done nothing in response to such comments. I’m not saying it’s right to use the tapes to assist the plaintiffs, but I can’t see it working in the NFL’s favor.

    2. Players choosing to wear less padding doesn’t = the plaintiffs choosing to wear less padding. That’s like an insurance company saying to you, “I’m not going to pay your medical bills. Even though you were wearing a seatbelt, 3 of your friends chose not to do so.” And leg, hip, and thigh pads don’t protect the head, so it’s irrelevant anyway.

    3. Again, if the plaintiffs never complained, you can’t fault them for that.

    4. In terms of simple physics.. yes, this is true.

    5. True, long-term effects are different with different people. That’s why you need to protect everyone to the best of your ability.

    6. This is probably true. I can’t imagine that any one of these guys would have given up the opportunity to play football.

    7. Saying that the fans won’t care IS ridiculous… if for no other reason than this is not fact, and it shouldn’t be stated in such a way in a piece of journalism.

    The end.

  5. rcali says: Jan 26, 2012 3:39 PM

    Does this mean I can sue my company for the daily stress associated to my job?

  6. jbcommonsense says: Jan 26, 2012 4:24 PM

    This case will turn on three questions: 1. What is scientifially KNOWN about the long term effects of repeated concussions; 2. How long have these facts been known; and 3. How thoroughly these facts were shared with the players [yes, that is the ownership’s duty].

    This may seem like a simple conclusion, but like with cigarrettes, businesses have a duty to share/publish the dangers of their products. “Tobacco smoke is dangerous to your health.” Similarly, owners must share any data that states, ”Too many intense collisions can damage your brain and general neurological system.”

    I know this view won’t be popular. So be it.

  7. pacificnw7722 says: Jan 26, 2012 5:01 PM

    Most players have admitted that they’ve had concussions in Pee Wee, Pop Warner, High School and College.

    Did the powers that be warn the player at that level the possible long term effects of playing football.

    When I played at that level and suffered a concussion I was told to shake it off and get back in the game.

  8. acieu says: Jan 26, 2012 7:21 PM

    Sidney Crosby and now NFL players wow who would have thought that playing violent games causes concussions. Gerald Ford was proof that playing football without a helmet creates dummies.

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