NFL Hid Link Between Football-Related Head Trauma and Permanent Brain Injuries, Lawsuit Says
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A concussion-related lawsuit accusing the NFL of hiding information that links football-related head trauma to permanent brain injuries was filed in federal court Thursday, The Associated Press reports.
More than 80 pending lawsuits were consolidated into the "master complaint," in which helmet-maker Riddell, Inc. is also named as a defendant.
Plaintiffs hope to hold the league responsible for caring for players suffering from dementia, Alzheimer's diseases and other neurological conditions. "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,'' former Eagles and Patriots running back Kevin Turner, now suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, said in the suit. "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.''
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The lawsuit accuses the NFL of "mythologizing" violence through the media, including its own NFL Films branch. The lawsuit also makes claims of negligence and intentional misconduct in its response to headaches, dizziness and dementia reported by ex-players. "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, according to the AP.
The league has rebuffed similar accusations in the past. Currently, the NFL provides a series of medical benefits to help former players, including the 88 Plan, which provides funding to treat dementia, Alzheimer's disease and ALS.
"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 link between head injuries endured on the field and later, more permanent neurological conditions has also been portrayed in several films and TV shows, most recently Law & Order: SVU, when a former star quarterback (Treat Williams) was found to be suffering from the progressive brain disease CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) because of his football injuries and committed suicide in the episode's final moments.