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Football and traumatic brain injuries, part 2: cases continue

In the first part of this post, we began discussing the issue of brain injuries suffered by pro football players. The San Diego Chargers community has been closely affected by the issue.

As we noted, it has only been about a year and a half since former Charger Junior Seau, once a star linebacker, took his own life in a tragic incident that his family contended was caused by brain damage sustained through football concussions.

In this part of the post, we will discuss the status of the wrongful death action against the National Football League in the Seau case. We will also briefly summarize some of the brain-injury litigation against the National Football League more broadly.

Following Junior Seau’s suicide in May of 2012, his family filed not one but two wrongful death lawsuits against the NFL. Those suits were eventually consolidated into a larger groups of cases brought by former NFL players against the league for failing to protect them from brain injuries caused by concussions.

More than 4,500 former players were plaintiffs in the case. This was about one third of the league’s former players.

Junior Seau’s family was included in this group, as was Hall of Fame running back Tony Dorsett and high-profile former Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon.

In August of this year, the NFL announced a proposed settlement of the case for $765 million.

But as big as that settlement was for the NFL, it hardly marked the end of litigation over brain injuries linked to football concussions. Earlier this month, for example, five former players for the Kansas City Chiefs sued not the NFL but the team itself.

The impetus for that suit may have been in part because of a peculiar local law. In Missouri, where the Chiefs play, a state law specified a certain time period by which employees who turn down workers’ compensation must have lawsuits filed.

If the suits against the Chiefs are successful, however, it is quite possible that other suits could follow against other NFL teams.

Source: U-T San Diego, "5 former Chiefs suing for brain injuries," Tod Leonard, Dec. 3, 2013

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