New England Law Review On Remand
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during the past three seasons would have grounds for a lawsuit, stating, “ifI’m hurt against the Saints in the last couple years, I’m suing the Saints.”
Other legal scholars have concurred with Young’s opinion.
Players bringing lawsuits in connection with injuries on the playing fields are fairlyrare occurrences, due in large part to the reluctance of courts to grant reliefas a result of a lower standard of care, affirmative defenses such asassumption of the risk and consent, and unwilling plaintiffs fearingostracism or retaliation.
This trend may be reversed in the coming yearswith respect to the NFL, however, primarily because of the confluence ofseveral commonalities in professional football today: concussions, a focuson player safety, and lawsuits.It was only in 2002 that an NFL player’s game-related brain injury wasfirst linked to a diagnosed case of dementia.
Now, as of July 2012, ninety-nine lawsuits involving concussions have been filed against the NFL andits teams, encompassing more than 2,600 former players.
A 2012 classaction filed by former players, which consolidated many of the lawsuits,accused the NFL of negligence and fraudulent concealment in “failing todisclose the true risks of repeated traumatic head impacts in NFL football,
Michael David Smith,
Steve Young Thinks Players Who Were Injured Should Sue theSaints
(Mar. 5, 2012),http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2012/03/05/steve-young-thinks-players-who-were-injured-should-sue-the-saints/.
Teams Could Be Held Liable for Injuries Traced to Bounties
, (Mar. 4, 2012), http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/05/sports/football/nfl-bounties-could-lead-to-lawsuits.html?_r=0.
Chris J. Carlsen & Mathew Shane Walker,
The Sports Court: A Private System to DeterViolence in Professional Sports
, 55 S. C
. 399, 407-14 (1982).
See Legal Issues Relating to Football Head Injuries (Part I & II): Hearings Before the H.Comm. on the Judiciary
, 111th Cong. 328 (2010) [hereinafter
Legal Issues Relating to Football HeadInjuries (Part II)
] (Testimony of Bennet I. Omalu, M.D., Co-Director, Brain Injury ResearchInstitute, W. Va. Univ.),
http://judiciary.house.gov/hearings/printers/111th/111-82_53092.pdf. Doctor Bennet I. Omalu of the Brain Injury Research Institute discovered thefirst case of dementia in an NFL football player—which he named Chronic TraumaticEncephalopathy (“CTE”)—after performing an autopsy on the brain of Pittsburgh Steelers’Hall of Famer Mike Webster in 2002.
Since that time, debate has ensued after the suicidesof former NFL players cast light on the potential connection between head trauma and CTE.
Race to Study Seau’s Brain
(May 3, 2012),http://articles.nydailynews.com/2012-05-03/news/31560567_1_traumatic-encephalopathy-seau-family-brain-injury-research-institute. In the midst of this, while not accepting the causalconnection of concussions and brain injuries to dementia, the NFL has placed an increasedemphasis on player safety.
See Legal Issues Relating to Head Injuries (Part II)
, 111th Cong. at 31-32, 35 (Statement of Roger Goodell, Comm’r, Nat’l Football League) (emphasizing the NFL’s“commitment to the safety and welfare of . . . those individuals who play our sport,” andconceding that head injuries “may play a role” in causing brain injuries).
The Concussion Lawsuit Shuffle
(July 3,2012), http://nflconcussionlitigation.com/?p=930.