As the proposed settlement of the massive concussion lawsuit continues to sputter through the judicial system, another former NFL player has formally initiated a civil action.
According to the Kansas City Star, the estate of linebacker Jovan Belcher has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the Chiefs.
The lawsuit, submitted by Belcher’s mother, contends that Belcher was exposed to “repetitive head trauma” and “suffered multiple concussive and subconcussive blows to the head which caused or contributed to cause a a constellation of neurologic/brain harms, including post concussion syndrome . . . and traumatic brain injuries, such as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).”
Apart from the boilerplate allegations appearing in most concussion lawsuits, the Belcher lawsuit makes specific allegations regarding behavior that caused Belcher to play through brain injuries. The lawsuit contends that Chiefs officials “engaged in mental abuse to ‘motivate’” Belcher, that Belcher was told “he was just an accident, and they would get rid of him,” and that he was bullied and pressured to the point that, when combined with Belcher’s concussion issues, “caused or contributed to cause [him] to become insane.”
The lawsuit also alleges that the Chiefs knew or should have known that Belcher showed signs of cognitive and neuropsychiatric impairment, that he was knocked unconscious during a game against Jacksonville in 2009 but was not immediately taken for evaluation, and that he wasn’t given time to fully recover before returning to practice.
The Chiefs played the Jaguars on November 8, 2009, only days after the NFL began to take far more seriously the issue of concussions and, specifically, the rules regarding a player’s ability to return to practice or game action.
The claims filed by Belcher’s estate extend beyond the handling of concussions, alleging that the Chiefs acquired a “duty to provide competent healthcare” by ordering him to see a counselor in October and November 2012, only weeks before he killed his girlfriend and then committed suicide in the parking lot at Arrowhead Stadium.
Belcher’s body was exhumed earlier this month. Tests are planned on brain tissue to determine whether Belcher suffered from Chronic Traumatic Encephelopathy.
The Chiefs had no comment to the Star regarding the lawsuit.