December 1, 2011

The NFL has asked a federal judge to a block a class action lawsuit filed by several retired football players. The players accuse the NFL of exposing them to head injuries by following inadequate head-safety rules as well as by concealing the risks from players.

Much of the dispute revolves around the players’ demand for medical monitoring — courts around the country, including in Oregon, have long believed that only a present injury, not the possibility of a future injury, can be the basis of a lawsuit like this.

This lawsuit says that the NFL encouraged players to neglect head safety for 40 years without making clear the risk of brain injury and Alzheimer’s associated with using their helmets as field weapons. The plaintiffs are demanding that the league fund medical monitoring services for every current and former NFL member.

The NFL has responded to the suit, calling it a “workplace grievance improperly (and insufficiently) pleaded in tort.” It has asked a judge to dismiss the suit, issuing a 49-page motion in which it claimed a medical monitoring claim filed in federal court requires subjects to have been exposed to hazardous substances.

So, the league asserts that they are ineligible because no dangerous substances are involved — the players’ claims only point to the high risk of concussions and brain injuries associated with professional football. The league further contends that retired players may not demand such a service for current players.

The NFL says, too, that the claims should not be settled in federal court, but rather handled under the league grievance protocol. It added that the players’ claims are based on rules found in several collective bargaining agreements.

The court has not yet issued a ruling in this matter.

Source: Courthouse News Service, “NFL Tries to Dismiss Ex-Players’ Helmet Case,” Reuben Kramer, Nov. 10, 2011


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