New concussion lawsuit is filed

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Few former players have said they want nothing to do with the concussion settlement brokered last week.  On Sunday, four former players made their position on the issue clear, without saying a word.

Jimmy Williams, Rich Mauti, Jimmy Keyes, and Nolan Franz filed a new concussion lawsuit against the league — three days after a settlement of the pending concussion lawsuits was struck.  The filing of a civil complaint in a New Orleans federal court creates the clear impression that they have no plans to participate in the settlement, and that they want to take their own crack at the league.

Similar to the lawsuits that continue to be filed against Pilot Flying J, the truck-stop company run by Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, after preliminary approval was given to a nationwide class-action settlement, the message from this new filing is that the players intend to exercise their right to “opt out” of the settlement.

Curiously, attorney Sol Weiss — co-lead counsel in the cases that were settled — tells the Associated Press that he expects the lawsuit to be included in the broader settlement.

That’s likely wishful thinking from Weiss.  The decision to file suit after a global settlement encompassing all retired players was struck means that the players who filed the lawsuit want to pursue their own deal, unless their lawyer simply wasn’t aware of the settlement.  Chances that a lawyer finalizing paperwork to file a concussion lawsuit against the NFL didn’t hear about the settlement of the concussion lawsuits against the league is remote, to say the least.

The suit also includes helmet manufacturer Riddell as a defendant.  No settlement has been reached with Riddell.

Per the AP, the new lawsuit contends that the players have experienced “headaches, dizziness, memory loss, depression, cognitive dysfunction and medical bills because of concussions and other brain injuries, and will have future expenses which they and their wives will have to pay for and future problems that will require their wives’ care.”

The pending settlement will compensate only those retired players with “severe cognitive impairment,” whatever that means.  On the surface, it seems to mean that anyone with cognitive impairment not deemed “severe” by the doctors who’ll be divvying up the $675 million compensation fund won’t be getting a cash payment as part of the settlement.

For that reason alone, players with cognitive impairment not likely to be regarded as “severe” should strongly consider opting out.

29 responses to “New concussion lawsuit is filed

  1. Craziness.

    Seems the NFL would have been better off keeping the leather heads, not developing pads, and leaving players without equipment and completely unprotected.

    Or… maybe not have the NFL at all???

    The guys knowingly played a physical ‘hitting’ and ‘tackling’ game. It would be different if they weren’t provided the equipment.

    During these same periods, how did many mothers know that football was rough and dangerous, but players claim they weren’t aware? Players were hurt all around them and suffered head injuries, broken limbs, etc all along.


  2. How long before this trickles down to NCAA, NFHS, USA Football (PEEWEE)?

    There is a trickle up effect, parents not allowing kids to play football out of fear.

  3. My job causes me sleepless nights, headaches, depression and massive stress, should I sue? No, that is why it is called A JOB. That is the reason you are paid to do the job. Everybody knows football is a dangerous sport, but that is why the players earn those ridiculously huge paychecks. The more risk there is, the more money you earn. It balances itself out.
    As for the players from the beginning of the sports startup, they should be given free medical, just because of the low amount of money they earned.

  4. You guys are missing the point entirely. This isn’t about them making a choice to play a game that is dangerous. It is about the legal responsibility of a league, to protect its players as best it can. I think every player understands the game they play is dangerous. Just like a deep sea diver or oil rig roughneck or coal miner or whatever…understands the danger in their job. Their employer however has a duty to do what they can to protect their workers and inform them of those risks.

    OSHA in the US is a regulatory body that attempts to protect workers in the workplace. It exists because we know business most of the time, does not and will not voluntarily protect its workers…cause that costs money. When working near chemicals, that workplace must have shower systems, eye wash systems, etc. To protect the worker. There have to be clear warning signs around all hazards and plans in place to avoid such hazards. This seems like COMMON SENSE to us all I think. Especially to those who work in areas where such things are needed.

    These players contend that the NFL has known through their team doctors…that the game as it has been played…was taking a very negative toll on its players post career. And instead of that league using this medical knowledge to enact a system meant to foster the game AND the health of its players. It instead ONLY fostered its game and the health of its owners pocket books.

    The point is, did the league have detailed knowledge of these injury types, especially head wounds, and did they choose to turn a blind eye. If the players believe they can prove that case, damn right they have a right to make such things public and seek damages.

    It is no different than any other profession. Just because these guys get paid well does not preclude them from those same benefits. And most of the older players, played at a time when the NFL did NOT have huge salaries. This is like the construction industry not informing construction workers of the harm of asbestos and allowing them to continue to work with it based on their profit and not the health of the worker. Oh wait…that happened…and I don’t think the majority of us are upset at a construction worker who gets some form of settlement based on that situation. The point…now we know the dangers, the worker knows the dangers, and they can take steps to avoid unneeded contact.

    If the NFL knew of the risks surrounding head injuries and concussions. And allowed teams to continue to allow players to play through those symptoms, they are at fault. I remember vividly hearing sideline conversations, “oh, he just got his bell rung, he is fine”. Now…that is called a concussion each time and the player is yanked from the game and not allowed to return. All you have to do is look at how the NFL has teams handling head injuries NOW. Think about it guys…it is TOTALLY different than before. But did we JUST learn about how these injuries are affecting players? If so…then the NFL is leading the way of player safety and we should all be commending them on their actions. BUT…if the NFL has understood these risks all along…and yet still encouraged players to play through those injuries, why are they acting different NOW and not BEFORE? Because…they are being sued…that is why.

  5. @darthsaing

    Some of what you say makes complete sense but here is why I have a problem with retired NFL players suing.

    Your comparison the construction workers is flawed because the construction workers weren’t aware of the asbestos issue while the employer was so there was clearly a case of the employer being completely responsible. In the case of the NFL the players have to share the blame because they should have known that using their heads as weapons was going to cause concussions. I don’t see how the NFL is solely responsible for that. Additionally I think most of the players that have joined the class action lawsuit were just making a money grab and don’t have any real medical issues that were caused by the NFL withholding information about concussions. They just spend all their money and now they want more.

    Any player that is truly experiencing lasting effects of head injuries due to their NFL days and truly wasn’t aware that using their head as a weapon could cause those problems and was never told by anyone that did in fact know that this could cause problems has a legitimate case. Other than that……pure money grab.

  6. The NFL’s handling of things over the past couple years trying to protect themselves from these lawsuits is going to hurt them more in the long run than the actual lawsuits themselves. Would these lawsuits cause some parents to keep their sons from playing football? Probably. But publicly announcing like Goodell did that kickoffs might be too dangerous to be part of the game any more is WAY more damaging.

    The lawsuits would be invisible to people who were only watching the games, but all the new player safety rules have turned the games themselves into a constant, ongoing discussion of how dangerous things are. There’s a running debate on every big hit about whether a flag should have been thrown, even when the play is totally clean. In the guise of trying to make the game seem safer, they’ve created the perception the game is more dangerous.

  7. Darthsaint,

    That was one of the most reasonable posts about the concussion issue I have read to date. The problem that I see is that, yes, concussions were and are a part of the game, but did players really know the LONGTERM cognitive effects from these hits? I do not think so. BUT did the NFL? This is the whole issue.

  8. This latest lawsuit is filed not only against the NFL but also against the helmet manufacturer. The helmet manufacturer had evidence that the padding in the helmet was not doing what they claimed it did and based upon those false claims, players expected better protection. Also, the NFL had research it kept secret and did not disclose to the players or later their players’ association concerning head injuries and the long term prognoses.

    For decades the helmet manufacturers have had access to better cushions inside the helmets and better construction composite for the shell, but chose not to use them because they cost another approximately $2 per helmet.

    Older players need to be pro-active and apply all known therapies to minimize the possible future problems. Some cannot afford these therapies or the intensive medical examinations. Those screenings and examinations should be provided by the NFL, even if it is in the next collective bargaining contract. One such examination is provided in the latest proposal and agreement awaiting the judge to sign off on it.

  9. I didn’t know ramming my head into things hard was bad for me!

    I knew in Grade 3 which I believe was 1984 or 1983.

    I guess some people were still thinking about breast feeding or looking for a competitive edge for dodgeball.

  10. Ok so if the NFL suspects that a player has a concussion, and holds a player out of a game based on that suspicion, and the player is close to triggering a bonus or incentive in his contract….that player and the NFLPA will rip the team, NFL doctors, and the league for not allowing him to earn that incentive/bonus.
    The player will make the NFL look bad.

    IF the player opts to hide concussion symptoms for the sole purpose of playing so he can trigger a bonus, he will sue the NFL and the team for “failing to protect him”.

    Either way the NFL does not win.
    This is what you get when the inmates are allowed to run the asylum.

  11. Why aren’t they suing their own union? If the NFL knew then surely so did the union. And the union is the one entity sworn to protect them. That they aren’t suing the NFLPA tells you this isn’t really about making the game safer for future players.

  12. Ok enough already, I mean come on look at the number of players who aren’t now or have been affected by playing football, most of these guys have blown what money they did earn and are looking to get paid again…however, as I hear it explained there aren’t going to be checks sent out to individuals you just get medical coverage for your condition and it varies player to player, now that being said…guys you played a game voluntarily knowing it was a physical and violent game…on the flip side our men and women in uniform active and retired me being one…join the military knowing the dangers involved and have to fight just to get adequate disability pay for serving our country and doing a far more dangerous thing…

  13. my son plays HS football middle linebacker, we know what can happen and what has happen to him a couple of times, but never will we blame or try to get a free ride off someone its part of the game and if you got no back bone dont play this game then say you want some extra money because you sucked and never got paid should have finish school.

  14. These former players suing are all hypocrites. The same players that were cloth lining each other, headbutting each other, tackling/blocking to injure, etc… are the ones claiming the NFL didn’t protect them. It’s ridiculous.

    They played a dangerous game. They knew that going in. If they didn’t like how the “league was not protecting” them, they all had other choices to choose a new profession.

    I’m sorry for all their injuries, concussions, etc… But that is all part of the game in which they chose to play.

  15. Bloodsucking lawyers looking for a buck. Throw up a suit charging every entity possible to see what they can get their grubby hands on. Only in America

  16. Good. Let the suits keep coming until the league has to go through the discovery process. I want everyone that blindly defends the league at all costs to see what they are defending.

  17. @darthsaint
    Well put. I just thought more than a simple thumbs up was required. It baffles me that so many people thumbs down your post.

  18. All they had to do is rework the pension and divide the pie more evenly. The pensions these guys were getting was a joke and the nfl said do something so the player did they opened a can of worms they wanted no part of and unfortunately they will pay for it. And so will we by losing the game we love to watch. #nowinnershere

  19. This is getting too crazy for me. Its getting impossible to live life with all these attorneys.

    The human condition cannot be solved by blood sucking lawyers. These players, even knowing the risks, would have played and WANTED to play even longer had they had the skill/conditioning.


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