As the concussion lawsuits move toward settlement (unless they don’t), the NFL has a new wave of litigation about which to worry.
Via the Associated Press, a new class action has been filed against the NFL alleging that the league illegally used prescription pain-killers to mask injuries and to allow players to keep playing.
The named plaintiffs include Bears Hall of Fame defensive end Richard Dent and former Bears quarterback Jim McMahon.
This new wave of litigation will present some of the same challenges for the players as the concussion lawsuits. First, the league will argue that any relief must be pursued not in the court system but through private arbitration. Second, the league will argue that the players assumed all or part of the risk of long-term health consequences by taking what they had to take to play.
If the players can prove that doctors prescribed painkillers improperly and/or failed to adequately explain the risks of chronic use, the players could be able to overcome some of the various hurdles.
Still, it will be a long, slow process. As it always seems to be when both the complexity level and the stakes are high.