Thousands of football players have filed personal injury lawsuits against the NFL and its helmet supplier, Riddell, after sustaining concussion-related brain injuries during their professional careers. Although the players admit they may have been aware of some risks associated with such an aggressive game, they are accusing the NFL of covering up the whole truth.
Generally speaking, the players are alleging that the NFL knew about the possible long-term effects of concussions and traumatic brain injuries but kept this information from the players and did little to protect them. If the NFL was more straightforward about the dangers the players faced from concussions, some players would have given up their football careers, they charge.
Additionally, the players are charging that the helmet maker Riddell is also liable for their concussive brain injuries, as the helmets they provided to players were defective and did not properly protect them. Players also feel that they were not adequately warned by Riddell that their helmets wouldn’t prevent brain injuries.
A class action lawsuit is a possible way for the courts to handle the complaints, as it would be unlikely for them to consider each case individually. It is estimated that a class action suit could eventually involve anywhere from 5,000 players up to 20,000 players. The NFL is facing the possibility of paying out billions of dollars in settlements.
According to a legal expert, the NFL may claim that the football players assume an inherent risk by their consent to play in the league. The NFL may also delve into the players’ backgrounds to gain information about any injuries the players suffered in high school or college sports, and alcohol or drugs that may have contributed to the brain injuries.
Additionally, the NFL may petition the court to have the cases dismissed, citing preemptive agreements that defer to the NFL’s internal arbitration process.
No doubt, this will be an interesting and important case to follow for football lovers and non-football lovers alike.
Source: Sporting News, “SN concussion report: NFL could lose billions in player lawsuits,” Glenn M. Wong, Aug. 22, 2012