NFL Concussion Lawsuits in Philadelphia

by The Rothenberg Law Firm LLP

Earlier this month, a federal court in Philadelphia heard arguments about concussions in the National Football League (NFL).  More than 4,100 plaintiffs, who are part of 222 consolidated lawsuits, are at the beginning of the process of having their cases heard.  The former NFL players allege that the NFL "deliberately and fraudulently" concealed the dangers of head trauma. The lawsuit further claims that the NFL did not fulfill its duty to warn players that they could face an increased risk of permanent brain damage if they played too soon after a concussion. According to the former players, the league hid the evidence of the long term results of head trauma for decades.

What’s At Stake in the Hearing?

At this stage, federal judge Anita Brody will decide whether these cases should be heard in federal court, or whether they should go through the process of the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement (CBA).  The NFL would like to keep the cases out of the courtroom and has argued that all of the post-career conditions for its players—including any related to injuries that they sustained while on the field—were collectively bargained for with each player’s explicit agreement to be governed by the terms of the NFL’s CBA.

The former NFL players want their cases to be heard before a court, and they’re arguing that the CBA shouldn’t apply to their claims.  Why?  According to reporter, Andrew Breer, the players claim that “because the league set up the Mild Traumatic Brain Injury committee (made up of doctors) independently of the CBA, their claims of negligence and fraud also exist outside the realm of the CBA; they[ ] say this proves the league has taken on traumatic brain injury as its duty.”

In other words, the players claim that the NFL acknowledged its duty toward traumatic brain injuries by setting up the committee, and that the league was negligent when it failed to deal appropriately with the players’ traumatic brain injuries.  According to, David Frederick, the lawyer for the former players stated that the NFL did not do anything about the injuries these plaintiffs suffered because they “didn't cause bleeding or broken bones.”  Frederick argues that “[t]he NFL had held itself out to be the guarantor of safety. ... When the NFL began to glorify and monetize violence on the field, it breached its duty of due care."

What Injuries Have Former Players Sustained?

Former fullbacks Kevin Turner and Steve Smith suffer from ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Other former players, such as Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon, are dealing with dementia.  Similarly, the former New Orleans Saints lineman Kyle Turley suffers from a seizure disorder.  These are just a few of the players who are part of the lawsuit and are suffering from various neurological issues.

Others, such as Junior Seau (whose family’s case was consolidated with those in Philadelphia), took his own life last year, and autopsies have confirmed that he suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). CTE, according to the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at Boston University, is a “progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in athletes (and others) with a history of repetitive brain trauma,” which includes “symptomatic concussions” and “asymptomatic hits to the head.”  After months, years, and sometimes even decades, the disease can lead to “memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, impulse control problems, aggression, depression, and eventually, progressive dementia.” As of now, CTE can only be definitively diagnosed through an autopsy, but new research continues to suggest the looming presence of CTE in the brains of retired football players. Many former NFL players have indicated their desire to donate their brains after death so that doctors will be able to explore the long term effects of head trauma on football players.

So how will the judge decide the cases in Philadelphia?

At the end of the hearings, Judge Brody indicated that she needed more time to examine the facts.  Some commentators suggest that we may not know anything for months.  This case is important not only to the plaintiffs bringing the lawsuit, but it could determine the NFL’s future role in caring for players with football-related traumatic brain injuries.



DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© The Rothenberg Law Firm LLP | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

The Rothenberg Law Firm LLP

The Rothenberg Law Firm LLP on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.


JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at:

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.