Move over, Big Tobacco. You may be soon joined by Big Football in being named defendants in personal injury lawsuits, as more victims of traumatic brain injuries realize where their injuires came from, and hold the responsible parties legally accountable.
That’s right. There has recently been a new spate of concussion lawsuits filed on behalf of retired National Football League players. Inevitable comparisons are now being made, comparing these concussion lawsuits to those filed by smokers who sued tobacco companies many years ago. An Associated Press review found that more than 2,400 retired football players are now plaintiffs in concussion-related lawsuits filed against the NFL. It includes players, spouses and other relatives or representatives as plaintiffs in the suits. They hope to win settlements that would approach the landmark, $206 Billion settlement that Big Tobacco shared among 46 states almost 15 years ago.
The plaintiffs are saying that the NFL knew that there were correlations between player head injuries and permanent brain injuries, and that the NFL was guilty of negligence and failed to take appropriate action — that they knew that concussions could lead to brain damage, yet hid that information. The plaintiffs are accusing the NFL of negligence and intentional misconduct in its response to the dizziness, headaches and dementia that the plaintiffs suffered. The NFL, of course, denies this, citing as evidence of their “concern”, a “committee” that they formed in 1994 to “study” the issue. Thisi group, the Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee , was, in my opinion as a Boston-Dedham brain injury lawyer, a classic public relations distraction strategy: When an organization knows they’ve done something wrong in some serious manner, they immediately follow the standard public relations playbook strategy: Form a “committee” to “study” the issue, which is designed to make observers and the public think that something serious is being done to effectively address the issue, when in fact nothing of any substance is being done, and nor is anything going to be done. It’s a standard “Smoke and Mirrors” evasion & distraction strategy. The proof in this example? I’m aware of no aggressive, responsive, corrective measures taken by either the NFL, or this “Committee,” since 1994. If such aggressive, responsive, or corrective measures were ever taken by the NFL in the last 18 years, I’d be open to hearing about them.
One of the lead counsels for the plaintiffs has stated that the NFL took a page right out of the tobacco industry playbook, and engaged in fraud and deception, ignoring the risks of traumatic brain injuries in football. He says that the NFL deliberately gave false information to the football players. The NFL, in its defense, says it has spent more than one Billion dollars on pension and disability benefits for its retired players. They also state that player safety has always been a priority. Sorry, but that’s kind of hard to imagine,when the objective of the game is to have 300 pound players head-butt each other.
Many of these suits were consolidated before a federal judge in Philadelphia. The NFL plans to file a motion to dismiss the cases, which would be filed by the second week in August.
As a Dedham-Boston injury attorney, I believe that victims of head injuries, whether they are sustained due to sports, motor vehicle accidents, construction accidents or otherwise, should have the right to argue their cases in court and seek compensation for those very serious injuries.
The NFL has a right to bring its dismissal motions. Let’s hear the evidence first, before they do a touchdown dance in the courtroom end zone.