NFL Named in Brain Injury Lawsuits and Master Complaint

Sports injuries are common among players in all competitive sports at all levels.  Perhaps no organization illustrates the potential for traumatic injury than the National Football League, whose players pride themselves on hard hits on the field.  However, studies are beginning to reveal the cumulative damage of repetitive head injury and concussions among former NFL players.  The organization is accused of encouraging devastating hits while covering up the potential for long term brain damage associated with repeated head trauma.  As a result of this accusation, the NFL has been named as a defendant in numerous lawsuits filed by professional football players and their wives. Earlier this summer, approximately 86 lawsuits representing more than 3,000 plaintiffs were brought together into one master complaint against the National Football League.  The master complaint differs from a class action lawsuit.  Whereas a class action binds all members of the class to a single settlement or trial outcome, the master complaint is part of a standard multi-district litigation allowing for more efficient handling of pre-trial issues and proceedings but still providing individual rulings or settlements to the plaintiffs. The majority of the plaintiffs in the master complaint are current and former NFL players who allege that the organization withheld information about the dangers of cumulative head injury associated with the sport.  The remaining plaintiffs are largely the wives of ex-players who are suing for spousal support. The lawsuits allege that the NFL failed to provide information linking football-related head trauma to permanent brain injuries and brain damage including Alzheimer's, dementia, memory loss, depression and mood disorders, and cognitive decline.  In recent years, several ex-football players have committed suicide.  Many of their families say their depression was related to irreparable brain damage.  Some players have requested that their brains be donated to scientific research about the cumulative effects of football-related head trauma. As a result of the master complaint, the NFL has filed suit against some three dozen insurance companies in an effort to force the companies to cover the costs of defending the claims.  One agency, Travelers insurance, has returned suit, saying that they represent NFL Properties and not the league itself.  Because NFL Properties is named in only two suits, the company alleges, they should not be required to share in the cost of defending all claims--only the two in which NFL Properties is named as a defendant. Suffering a traumatic brain injury or the cumulative effects of repetitive head trauma in sports may be preventable is safety measures are taken, including proper sports gear and sports rules preventing dangerous hits to the head.  If you or someone you love has suffered a sports-related head injury, call (405) 418-8888 to speak with a brain injury lawyer in Oklahoma City.