The following article was written by Alex Mitrani.
As many are aware, the NFL is currently facing a barrage of concussion lawsuits from former players. Former players are claiming that the NFL failed to disclose the risks of concussions and/or failed to take steps to protect the players from concussions. The NFL argued before the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation that these claims should be resolved via the collective bargaining process. The league’s reasoning for keeping these claims out of court is simple: It is trying to save money. If the NFL is unlucky in keeping these claims out of court, it could cost the league millions in a settlement and/or verdict as well as bad publicity for not doing more to protect its players. Also, the league is aware that if these claims are heard before a jury, that the “emotional factor” could play a vital role. Hearing the stories of these former athletes and how their lives were affected as a result of these concussions could affect the jury’s ability to fairly apply the law.
Keeping these claims out of the courts is going to be an uphill battle for the NFL if their aim is resolving through collective bargaining while the former players want resolution through litigation. If the players can justify their claims that the NFL did not provide due care to its players by failing to disclose the risks of concussions and/or failed to take steps to protect them from concussions it would be a violation of the collective bargaining agreement. Throughout the years, the NFL has made various safety changes to equipment and recently made changes to game rules as a result of increased injuries including, but not limited to, concussions. Unless these two sides can agree to a settlement out of court, this case should move forward and could provide some insight into the treatment of players in regards to injuries.