Dolphins pair, 19 others sue NFL over concussions
Nearly two-dozen former National Football League players are suing the league over severe and permanent brain damage they say is linked to concussions suffered on the job.
The complaint follows a similar one filed earlier this week in Atlanta. It is the latest in a series of lawsuits filed against the NFL in recent months by past players.
The lawsuit was filed Thursday in Miami on behalf of ex-Dolphins team members Patrick Surtain, Oronde Gadsden and 19 other NFL players. Most now live in Florida. It accuses the National Football League of deliberately omitting or concealing evidence linking concussions and long-term neurological problems.
Player safety has long been a priority for the league, which denies the charges.
The players claim the NFL made misrepresentations about the seriousness of their injuries "with the intent of inducing NFL players, including Plaintiffs, to return to play as soon as physically possible after having suffered a football-related concussion and to promote an aggressive style of football that would attract viewers."
According to the lawsuit, following numerous studies on the risks of concussions, the NFL created a committee of researchers and doctors in 1994 to study concussions.
The committee was supposed to be independent, but members were affiliated with NFL, the lawsuit said, and the group did not include a doctor specializing in neurology or other brain research. When the committee published its findings in 2003, it stated "there was no long term negative health consequence associated with concussions," according to the complaint.
The former players are seeking a jury trial and unspecified damages.
The lawsuit notes that in 2010, the NFL replaced the leaders of its research committee, and that the new leadership described the data used in the past by the NFL to counter the long-term effects of concussions as "infected" and lacking in science.
Two-time Super Bowl champion Jim McMahon was among six former players and one current player to file a lawsuit against the NFL in August over the league's handling of concussion-related injuries.
McMahon has said he played through five concussions but now frequently walks around "in a daze" and forgets why he entered a room.
In July, 75 retired players sued the NFL in Los Angeles, alleging the league knew since the 1920s of the harmful effects of concussions, but concealed them from players, coaches, trainers and the public until June 2010. That suit also names helmet-maker Riddell, the NFL's official helmet supplier, as a defendant.
The federal suit filed by McMahon and company, though, is the first to seek class-action status and potentially include anyone who had played in the league and suffered a concussion or head injury.