Aaron Patrick sues NFL, ESPN, Rams, Chargers over ACL tear suffered during game

DENVER BRONCOS VS LOS ANGELES CHARGERS, NFL
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Last month, linebacker Aaron Patrick suffered a torn ACL as he tried to avoid colliding with an individual on the sidelines of a Monday night game between the Broncos and the Chargers. Patrick has now sued various entities for the harm caused by the injury.

Patrick has sued the NFL, ESPN, the Rams, the Chargers, and other entities, in civil court in Los Angeles.

The lawsuit alleges negligence in the placement of mats covering cords and cables that led to the feed for the league’s replay monitor. Patrick alleges that his foot rolled on one of the mats as he tried not to slam into the NFL’s “green hat” TV liaison.

Patrick’s complaint also contends that ownership of the venue owed a duty of care to those with access to the field, and that ownership allowed an unsafe condition to exist on those premises.

Patrick has sued anyone and everyone connected to the situation. While some may call that excessive, it’s prudent. The only way to get to the truth is to blame everyone who arguably was responsible, and hope that they’ll try to blame each other. Eventually, a jury will decide which of the defendants are to blame.

Obviously, Patrick bears no blame. He was simply doing his job — and trying not to wipe out a worker who was in his path.

Patrick lost half of his salary for the bulk of the season, a consequence of a so-called “split” contract, which limits his compensation if placed on injured reserve. He also allegedly has lost an opportunity to earn player performance bonuses and non-covered medical expenses. He seeks compensation for his pain and suffering.

The obvious response by the league, the Chargers, and the Rams will be that any potential claims are covered by the arbitration clause of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. In a press release announcing the lawsuit, Patrick’s counsel explains that the lawsuit will challenge the CBA, claiming that it does not contain a valid and binding arbitration agreement, that it doesn’t provide sufficient notice of the waiver of state-court access, and that the CBA provides no real basis for recovery for injuries suffered via non-contact injuries.

Patrick also attacks the CBA itself, calling it “unconscionable due to the disparity between the NFL and the players.” (That’s a direct shot at the NFL Players Association, which negotiated the agreement on behalf of the players.)

ESPN and other non-NFL defendants won’t be able to try to push the case to arbitration. Frankly, ESPN would have an interest in supporting Patrick’s effort to keep the case in court. That, however, would not mesh with ESPN’s overall business interests, as it relates to ESPN’s broadcast partnership with the NFL.

58 responses to “Aaron Patrick sues NFL, ESPN, Rams, Chargers over ACL tear suffered during game

  1. Jammal Charles should have sued everyone too when he tore his stepping on that 1st down marker floor mat.

  2. If the CBA prevents him from being compensated properly, then that is “unconscionable”. No way a player should lose money because the team/stadium/league/TV create an unsafe work enviornment.

  3. I see guys run off the field and slam into sideline workers ever game. Now this guy wants to sue everyone because he got injured? Wow.

  4. sounds like he should have looked at the contract stipulations and requirements before signing it

  5. Don’t blame him, how many people players have gotten injured because of equipment or some guy just standing there with his hands in his pockets not caring to move out the way.

    Other than the bench itself, everyone should honestly move further back, I’m not sure why everyone has to touch the white line to see the game.

  6. This is frivolous. There is certain amount of risk involved in your sport. No one set out to injure anyone and there mats on every field covering cords across the league. Throwing good money after bad.

  7. I hope that kid ends up owning the Commanders.

    If ever I rooted for the little guy, its right here, right now.

  8. Don’t know if anyone remembers Bubba Smith, but he blew his knee out landing on the first down chain and won a big lawsuit as a result. It was because of his incident that the first down markers went from metal to their current thing, whatever it may be.

    Bubba Smith was on track for a HOF career, but knee surgery in the 1970s was primitive by today’s standards, and he never fully recovered.

  9. I’m not the type to file a lawsuit every five minutes, but I’ve always felt people along the sidelines were a safety hazard to themselves, as well as the players. Maybe this will wake somebody up.

  10. Always thought there’s too much garbage on the sidelines of these games. Mostly people just standing around who don’t need to be there, trying to act important. This may force the NFL to clean it up a bit….

  11. This is not frivolous. I never heard of a split contract where guys lose half of their pay if injured. That seems unconscionable. As far as the suit itself, why do we need so many people and so much equipment so close to the field? It puts players and those on the sidelines at risk. It’s a matter of time until someone on the sideline gets severely injured by a 250 pound man in armor bowling them over. Move all of those people back or off the field.

  12. Don’t the players or teams carry insurance to cover things like this…seems like a no brainer. Where is his agent?

  13. NFL needs to a et up a barricade similar to soccer/hockey/baseball. Players need to be in a dugout or bench area.

  14. Imagine if sideline players sue other players/teams because they’re just “doing their job” watching the game and waiting for their turn to play.

  15. Anyone saying this is frivolous or just a “risk of the game” are insane. Yes, there are risks of the game, but having non-essential people crowding the sideline AND, more importantly, equipment that close to the sideline that IS dangerous is not a “risk” players signed up for. These items are the result of money-making efforts by the league and team owners and as such, they have liability.

  16. Having attended a 100 or so NFL games in my life, I always found it odd how cluttered the sidelines are with cords, cameras, exercise equipment, and other assorted items. Once you pass that thick white strip on the sidelines it’s a serious danger zone. A relatively easy thing to slightly improve safety would be to increase the width of the side line strip. Today the strip is maybe 2 yards. Making it 4-5 yards would dramatically improve player safety. Although I think some older fields might find the sidelines awfully tight in that case.

  17. Reggie Bush tore his ACL during a game against the Rams after he slipped on concrete surrounding the field, and I believe he got millions in a settlement. Jonathan Abram got hurt running into camera apparatus during a Raiders game a couple years ago. It’s disappointing that the league doesn’t place a greater premium on safety for the people putting their livelihoods at risk to entertain us. Half the owners would probably fire everybody in sight if they tripped over something in their office…

  18. Can we say assumption of risk, boys and girls? Cause that is gonna be one of the defenses to this action.

  19. fuzall says:
    November 15, 2022 at 1:49 pm
    Anyone saying this is frivolous or just a “risk of the game” are insane. Yes, there are risks of the game, but having non-essential people crowding the sideline AND, more importantly, equipment that close to the sideline that IS dangerous is not a “risk” players signed up for. These items are the result of money-making efforts by the league and team owners and as such, they have liability.

    ———-

    I would argue it is 100% a risk that players sign up for. There would be an indemnification clause in the player contract that indemnifies the NFL on pretty much everything. I will be shocked if this ever makes it to a court.

  20. This seems like a lawsuit that’s been a lingering possibility for many years. The crowded and haphazard mix of people, mats, cords, and cameras cause collisions and potential injuries like this to occur on a number of plays every game. Players have to sometimes make dramatic cuts or dives to avoid a large crew of unpadded, unprotected personnel and large equipment as they come flying at them at high speed. Often even the ground barrier on the sidelines looks pretty slick at some fields. These guys are causing serious harm to their bodies to play anyway, the teams and the NFL should definitely consider how much is on the sidelines that could be adding unnecessary risk to these athletes.

  21. Seems like he should probably sue his agent or representative for not explaining the “fine print” in his contract. Players knowingly accept risk of injury when they sign them – do they not? Now as far as going lawsuit crazy and sueing everyone involved for this particular game – I’m not sure it holds much water but he’s welcome to try.

  22. Always said there isn’t enough space between the field of play and the sideline workers / equipment.

    The white out of bounds border should be 4 times wide as it is now.

    220 lb men running 20 mph toward you and everyone standing there looking like deer in headlights.

  23. If they don’t have a ticket for a seat or PRESS BOX credentials they shouldn’t be there. Side line TV Reporters can wait in a designated area safely out of the way until the end of the 1st half and the game. Easy peezy.

  24. Maybe if the league were smart and used, you know, readily-available technology and less error-prone humans to do their work this wouldn’t be a problem.

  25. Unless the stadium workers were on the field of play or in the white painted buffer zone this is completely frivolous.

  26. The concept of a split contract sounds like a total rip-off. If the NFLPA wants to help players they should get that scam abolished like yesterday.

    This guy probably wouldn’t even sue if he hadn’t lost half his pay and the team refused to cover the medical bills for an on the job injury. And yes, I know he signed the contract.

  27. Didn’t this also happen to Reggie Busch at the Rams’ stadium in St Louis about 10 years ago? I think he cleared more than $10M in that lawsuit.

  28. norseyapper says:
    November 15, 2022 at 1:22 pm
    If the CBA prevents him from being compensated properly, then that is “unconscionable”. No way a player should lose money because the team/stadium/league/TV create an unsafe work enviornment.
    ——————————
    And having a 6 foot 3 inch/250 lb running back (like Derrick Henry) trying to run you over is a safe working environment?

  29. I saw this happen live. Didn’t initially see his cleats get stuck in the mat until the replay. I believe he wins his case. The NFL has too many people on the sidelines who shouldn’t be there. Maybe the need an extra couple of yards where the camera crew, officials ect has to stand with their equipment. It’s simply too close to the field and people get hurt. This guy may never play again…he was just a special team player trying to make a case to get on the field more. Now, who knows

  30. Workplace injuries have skyrocketed since the former guy gutted OSHA. THey have so few employees that they no longer visit workplaces to ensure safety.

  31. Always blows my mind how quickly people come in the defense of billionaires and billionaire corporations. They aren’t going to pick you.

  32. My heart goes out. I’d argue in a normal working environment he would have a good case. Unfortunately in this case, he’s part of a union. Everything is negotiated ahead of time and the parties he’s going after have far more resources than he does. He won’t win. The classy move would be for the shield and teams and maybe even espn to split the cost.

  33. I hope he wins, because after suing his own team, I doubt he will be getting another contract from them.

  34. All the junk and bodies that close to the field, and the players are the ones who are supposed to slow or swerve? I applaud this guy and hope he recovers. Remember Rodman vs Camera Guy/Castenatas!

  35. “Obviously, Patrick bears no blame.”

    Are we sure about that? The mat was about 15 feet beyond the outer edge of the sideline. Of the whole crowd of players running at that point, he’s the only one that didn’t stop himself sooner, and he knocked an older guy fully to the ground in the process.

    I’m not sure it’s a reasonable expectation to be 15 feet outside the field of play, knock down other people, and still have nothing anywhere near you that could injure you.

  36. I’m surprised it doesn’t happen more often. The sidelines are packed full of people doing various things from actual game related work to being ‘in the way MVPs’. The argument could be made that game related personnel should be someplace other than in the potential path of a player who’s momentum can’t be altered. If facility staff didn’t properly secure cables, causing a hazard, the responsible parties should be held accountable. This player is out of work and pay thru no fault of his own. Sounds like a valid argument, but the NFL will wiggle out somehow. ie: arbitration.

  37. This is a valid claim. I used to work for a team and had bench credentials. I never once went down to the sidelines during a game. If you don’t need to be there, you shouldn’t be there (Bruce Arians, looking at you). If equipment or cables have to be in the area, they should be covered & safely secured.

    And yes, split contracts are real and many rookies sign them because they don’t have much leverage, especially the lower round draft picks. All agents should push back on split contracts.

  38. A player waking up to the fact that unions may not have the best interest of all their constituents at heart.

    The wants and needs of those at the top will always displace the “little guy”.

    Exactly what unions are stated to protect against. Irony.

  39. Hockey and Soccer are the two true professional sports where cameras, equipment, and fans don’t interfere with the game or safety for the players

  40. If he wins does it set the precedent that players can be sued if they hurt a bystander that is reasonably outside the sideline? Not everyone can be watching what the players are doing on the field, some are required to watch or entertainment people in the stands.

  41. There are way too many people and gear in close proximity to the sidelines. Someday someone will eat the motor dolly and that will be bad.

  42. I’m continually disappointed to read all the comments slamming players over everything and siding with billionaire owners. Aside from maybe 3 or 4 owners, it’s crickets. But every players is just a greedy punk who should just be grateful he is permitted to play for these rich clowns.

  43. sportyspice2020 says:
    November 15, 2022 at 5:01 pm
    This is a valid claim. I used to work for a team and had bench credentials. I never once went down to the sidelines during a game. If you don’t need to be there, you shouldn’t be there (Bruce Arians, looking at you). If equipment or cables have to be in the area, they should be covered & safely secured.

    ________________________________________________________________________

    They were covered. He is saying the mat and cable trays covering them caused his injury. They had followed the proper safety procedures covering the trip point. So just another reason his case is going nowhere. They were not in any way negligent if they followed standard accepted safety practices which if you look at the film they seem to have done so.

  44. Don’t workers comp rules indemnify your employer in these situations and prevent you from suing?

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