Roughly 9,000 lawsuits have been filed against tobacco companies in Florida based on claims that for many years tobacco companies failed to warn smokers about the dangers and addictive capacity of cigarettes. The class of potential plaintiffs is huge, as many people across the country have smoked cigarettes at one point in their lives. The number of people to play professional football in the National Football League (NFL) is astronomically smaller, but there could be a decently large class of potential plaintiffs who have a claim that the NFL knew about the dangers and damaging health effects of concussions, yet failed to warn about the consequences involved in suffering from concussions on the field of play.
As early as 2005, independent scientists found that multiple NFL concussions cause problems like depression and early-onset dementia. The NFL Concussion Committee argued against these findings for quite some time. A few years ago, doctors concluded that three NFL players who had passed away had Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), which contributed to their deaths. CTE is typically associated with people who sustain multiple blows to the head.
The NFL had a Concussion Summit in 2007. The NFL followed up the Summit with releasing a concussion pamphlet, which read in part, “there is no magic number for how many concussions is too many.” The NFL did not want to accept what independent researchers had discovered, and refused to inform its players of the potential consequences of suffering concussions.
NFL players may claim that they lacked an adequate warning regarding concussions, similar to the plaintiffs who have claimed that the tobacco industry failed to warn of the link between cigarette consumption and ill health effects. To the NFL’s credit, it recently has promoted further research into concussions, admitted the long-term problems associated with suffering from concussions, and brought in distinguished neurologists to help protect its football players. But what about all the players who suffered when there might have not been adequate warning available?
NFL alumni who have medical claims related to dementia may receive up to $88,000 per year from the NFL, but is that just compensation? Players who believe they have a claim against the NFL for failure to provide adequate warning about the link between concussions and cognitive decline should approach an attorney.