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Thread: Mega-lawsuit says NFL hid brain injury links

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    Mega-lawsuit says NFL hid brain injury links

    Mega-lawsuit says NFL hid brain injury links

    By MARYCLAIRE DALE - Associated Press
    June 7, 2012

    PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- A concussion-related lawsuit bringing together scores of cases has been filed in federal court, accusing the NFL of hiding information that linked football-related head trauma to permanent brain injuries.

    Lawyers for former players say more than 80 pending lawsuits are consolidated in the "master complaint" filed Thursday in Philadelphia.

    Plaintiffs hope to hold the NFL responsible for the care of players suffering from dementia, Alzheimer's disease and other neurological conditions. Other former players remain asymptomatic, but worry about the future and want medical monitoring. The helmet-maker Riddell, Inc. also is named as a defendant.

    "I want this game to be around, to be a great sport, a sport that my own boys will be able to play and enjoy all the benefits I believe that football has," said former Eagles and Patriots running back Kevin Turner, now suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

    "Let's face it and be honest, I feel like the NFL has over the past decades - at least until `08 or `09 - kind of turned a blind eye to the seriousness of not only concussions ... but the cumulative effect of (hits) and how these retired players are having so much difficulty in getting along in their daily lives."

    The suit accuses the NFL of "mythologizing" and glorifying violence through the media, including its NFL Films division.

    "The NFL, like the sport of boxing, was aware of the health risks associated with repetitive blows producing sub-concussive and concussive results and the fact that some members of the NFL player population were at significant risk of developing long-term brain damage and cognitive decline as a result," the complaint charges.

    "Despite its knowledge and controlling role in governing player conduct on and off the field, the NFL turned a blind eye to the risk and failed to warn and/or impose safety regulations governing this well-recognized health and safety problem."

    The league has denied similar accusations in the past.

    "Our legal team will review today's filing that is intended to consolidate plaintiffs' existing claims into one `master' complaint," the NFL said in a statement. "The NFL has long made player safety a priority and continues to do so. Any allegation that the NFL sought to mislead players has no merit. It stands in contrast to the league's many actions to better protect players and advance the science and medical understanding of the management and treatment of concussions."

    The NFL provides a series of medical benefits to former NFL players to help them after football, including joint replacement, neurological evaluations and spine treatment programs, assisted living partnerships, long-term care insurance, prescription benefits, life insurance programs, and a Medicare supplement program.

    One of the programs, the 88 Plan, named after Hall of Fame tight end John Mackey, provides funding to treat dementia, Alzheimer's disease, and ALS. Players do not need to demonstrate that the condition was caused by their participation in the NFL.

    The league says that in partnership with the NFLPA it has spent more than a billion dollars on pensions, medical and disability benefits for retired players.

    Mary Ann Easterling will remain a plaintiff despite the April suicide of her husband, former Atlanta Falcons safety Ray Easterling, who had been a named plaintiff in a suit filed last year.

    Easterling, 62, suffered from undiagnosed dementia for many years that left him angry and volatile, his widow said. He acted out of character, behaving oddly at family parties and making risky business decisions that eventually cost them their home. They were married 36 years and had one daughter. She believes the NFL has no idea what families go through.

    "I wish I could sit down with (NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell) and share with him the pain. It's not just the spouses, it's the kids, too," Easterling, 59, told The Associated Press from her home in Richmond, Va. "Kids don't understand why Dad is angry all the time."

    Ray Easterling played for the Falcons from 1972 to 1979, helping to lead the team's "Gritz Blitz" defense in 1977 that set the NFL record for fewest points allowed in a season. He never earned more than $75,000 from the sport, his widow said. After his football career, he started a financial services company, but had to abandon the career in about 1990, plagued by insomnia and depression, she said.

    "I think the thing that was so discouraging was just the denial by the NFL," Mary Ann Easterling said. "His sentiment toward the end was that if he had a choice to do it all over again, he wouldn't (play). ... He was realizing how fast he was going downhill."

    The list of notable former players connected to concussion lawsuits is extensive and includes the family of Dave Duerson, who shot himself last year. Ex-quarterback Jim McMahon, Duerson's teammate on Super Bowl-winning 1985 Chicago Bears, also has been among the plaintiffs.

    The cases are being consolidated for pretrial issues and discovery before Senior U.S. District Judge Anita B. Brody in Philadelphia.

    The players accuse the NFL of negligence and intentional misconduct in its response to the headaches, dizziness and dementia that former players have reported, even after forming the Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee to study the issue in 1994.

    "After voluntarily assuming a duty to investigate, study, and truthfully report to the public and NFL players, including the Plaintiffs, the medical risks associated with MTBI in football, the NFL instead produced industry-funded, biased, and falsified research that falsely claimed that concussive and sub-concussive head impacts in football do not present serious, life-altering risks," the complaint says.

    The problem of concussions in the NFL has moved steadily into the litigation phase for about a year.

    According to an AP review of 81 lawsuits filed through May 25, the plaintiffs include 2,138 former players. The total number of plaintiffs in those cases is 3,356, which includes players, spouses and other relatives or representatives.

    Some of the plaintiffs are named in more than one complaint, but the AP count did not include duplicated names in its total. The master suit contains a provision to allow other players to join it as plaintiffs and attorneys expect that to happen.

    "We want to see them take care of the players," Mary Ann Easterling said.

    http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories...MPLATE=DEFAULT__________________

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    Mega-lawsuit says NFL hid brain injury links

    By Barry Wilner Ap Pro Football Writer
    Published: Thursday, June 7, 2012

    NEW YORK — Scores of lawsuits involving thousands of former players touched by concussions and brain injuries have been consolidated into one master complaint, setting up a massive and potentially costly case for the NFL.

    Lawyers for the players filed the complaint Thursday in Philadelphia, accusing the NFL of hiding information that linked football-related head trauma to permanent brain injuries. Among the illnesses cited were dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

    The plaintiffs hope to hold the NFL responsible for the care of players suffering from those health problems.

    “The NFL must open its eyes to the consequences of its actions,” said Kevin Turner, a former running back with the Patriots and Eagles who has been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). “The NFL has the power not only to give former players the care they deserve, but also to ensure that future generations of football players do not suffer the way that many in my generation have.”

    Also named in the suit was helmet-maker Riddell, Inc.

    The suit accuses the NFL of “mythologizing” and glorifying violence through the media, including its NFL Films division.

    “The NFL, like the sport of boxing, was aware of the health risks associated with repetitive blows producing sub-concussive and concussive results and the fact that some members of the NFL player population were at significant risk of developing long-term brain damage and cognitive decline as a result,” the complaint charges.

    “Despite its knowledge and controlling role in governing player conduct on and off the field, the NFL turned a blind eye to the risk and failed to warn and/or impose safety regulations governing this well-recognized health and safety problem.”

    In response, the NFL cited the many health programs it runs for current and former players, and a series of medical benefits to former NFL players to help them after football. Those include joint replacement, neurological evaluations and spine treatment programs, assisted living partnerships, long-term care insurance, prescription benefits, life insurance programs, and a Medicare supplement program.

    “The NFL has long made player safety a priority and continues to do so,” the league said in a statement. “Any allegation that the NFL sought to mislead players has no merit. It stands in contrast to the league’s many actions to better protect players and advance the science and medical understanding of the management and treatment of concussions.”

    The league added that in partnership with the NFL Players Association it has spent more than a billion dollars on pensions, medical and disability benefits for retired players.

    Turner, however, sees little positive coming from those programs.

    “For the longest time, about the first 10 years after I retired in January 2000, I thought I had just turned into a loser overnight,” he said. “I couldn’t figure out what was wrong. It was a very scary proposition — until I found out there were a lot more guys just like me. I find they had been through some of the same struggles. I realized this is no longer a coincidence.”

    Attorneys for the players said they were not trying to tear apart the NFL, only to ensure that it lives up to its obligations to provide a safer sport. And that it offers proper care for those who have retired from the game.

    Mary Ann Easterling echoed those thoughts.

    She will remain a plaintiff despite the April suicide of her husband, former Atlanta Falcons safety Ray Easterling, who had been a named plaintiff in a suit filed last year. Easterling, 62, suffered from undiagnosed dementia for many years that left him angry and volatile, his widow said. He acted out of character, behaving oddly at family parties and making risky business decisions that eventually cost them their home. They were married 36 years and had one daughter. She believes the NFL has no idea what families go through.

    “I wish I could sit down with (NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell) and share with him the pain. It’s not just the spouses, it’s the kids, too,” Easterling, 59, told The Associated Press from her home in Richmond, Va. “Kids don’t understand why Dad is angry all the time.

    “I think the thing that was so discouraging was just the denial by the NFL.”

    The list of notable former players connected to concussion lawsuits is extensive and includes the family of Dave Duerson, who shot himself last year.

    According to an AP review of 81 lawsuits filed through May 25, the plaintiffs include 2,138 former players. The total number of plaintiffs in those cases is 3,356, which includes players, spouses and other relatives or representatives.

    Some of the plaintiffs are named in more than one complaint, but the AP count did not include duplicated names in its total. The master suit contains a provision to allow other players to join it as plaintiffs and attorneys expect that to happen.

    “I just want the NFL to stand up and be accountable for its actions,” Turner said. “That is how we can prevent more people from suffering and keeping this game that has plenty of benefits. But we can make it safer and I am hoping that’s what we do.”

    http://triblive.com/sports/steelers/...rling-football

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    Dawson's Hall call on court detour

    July 12, 2012
    By Dan Gigler / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

    With his induction to the Pro Football Hall of Fame just a few weeks away, former Steelers center Dermontti Dawson is among the latest former NFL players to file suit against the league for head injuries sustained while playing professional football.

    According to a suit filed July 3 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi, Dawson and three other ex-Steelers -- running back Stephen Avery, wide receiver Jeff Graham and safety Jonathan Staggers -- are among 47 former players being represented by attorneys John D. Giddens and Phillip Thomas in Jackson, Miss.

    The suit alleges that the league "was aware of the evidence and the risks associated with repetitive traumatic brain injuries and concussions for decades, but deliberately ignored and actively concealed the information from the Plaintiffs and all others who participated in organized football at all levels" and that the repeated injuries can lead to Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE.

    CTE is a degenerative brain disease associated with a history of concussions and head traumas. Researchers say it can lead to depression, erratic behaviors, memory loss and ultimately early onset dementia.

    The suit cites the cases of Steelers Hall of Fame center Mike Webster and guard Terry Long -- both teammates of Dawson -- among several other NFL players who have been disabled or died by their own hand, with CTE as a culprit.

    Webster died of heart failure in 2002 at the age of 50, after being mentally disabled from repeated head injuries, the suit said. Long committed suicide in '05 after battling depression which may have been brought on by CTE.

    The suit does not specify injuries to Dawson nor any of the other players involved.

    More than 2,600 former players and their spouses have filed suit against the NFL to date, including dozens who played all or part of their careers with the Steelers.

    Dawson, 47, was a second-round draft pick of the Steelers in 1988 and he played his entire career in Pittsburgh. He started in five games at right guard as a rookie before taking over starting center duties from Webster in '89. At one point he played 170 consecutive games. A seven-time Pro Bowl and six-time first-team All-Pro selection, nagging hamstring injuries ultimately ended his career. He was released after the 2000 season and then retired.

    He will be enshrined into the Hall Aug. 4 in Canton, Ohio.

    Avery was with the Steelers from 1993-95, the final three seasons of his five-season NFL career.

    Graham was a second-round draft for the Steelers in '91 and was with the team through the '93 season.

    He played eight more seasons with the Chicago Bears, New York Jets, Philadelphia Eagles and San Diego Chargers.

    Staggers was a fifth-round draft pick for the Steelers in '70 and played that season and the '71 season for the team before playing four more seasons with the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions.

    The plaintiffs' attorneys could not be reached for comment, nor could a spokesperson for the NFL.

    In response to previous lawsuits, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy has said that "the NFL has long made player safety a priority and continues to do so. Any allegation that the NFL intentionally sought to mislead players has no merit.

    "It stands in contrast to the league's actions to better protect players and advance the science and medical understanding of the management and treatment of concussions."

    http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/...#ixzz20TcYxUpx

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