Concussion Litigation

Death over Concussion Issues Brings Suit

The following article was written by Cyle Kiger.

Dave Duerson died a year ago due to a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest.  There were times in his 11 year career where he lost consciousness during games, and had more than 10 concussions.  Duerson, a member of the ’85 Bears and ’90 Giants Super Bowl teams, left a note to have his family donate his brain to Boston University’s School of Medicine.

The lawsuit was filed for a wrongful death claim against the NFL.  Tregg, Duerson’s son, filed the claim on behalf of his family, stating that the NFL did not do enough to prevent or treat the concussions of his father.  The family wants to know how the NFL handled concussions during Duerson’s career.

Concussion litigation is becoming more familiar to the NFL with each passing day.  The league may be looking at an expensive 18 suits, not including Duerson’s case.  There are currently 657 retired players suing the league, none of which have as strong a case as Duerson, says Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune.  It should not go without saying that 11 former New Orleans Saints also filed suit against the NFL for concussion issues more than a week ago.

Tregg Duerson said at a press conference, “If they(NFL) knowingly failed to inform and implement proper safety concussion procedures, then their indifference was the epitome of injustice.”  The Duerson family is accusing the NFL of negligently not warning Dave Duerson of the negative effects of concussions.  The suit also involves Riddell Inc., claiming that the helmets did not adequately protect players.

This writer doesn’t like to see injuries happen in any sport, but watching the incredible hits that occur on a weekly basis is what the fans of the NFL thrive for.  Player safety has hit No. 1 on the league’s priorities, and very well should be.

However, the rule changes lead to missed calls; protecting players on good football plays will ultimately be the downfall to the NFL.  Dr. Hunt Batjer said to the Chicago Tribune that changing the kickoff rule reduced the number of concussions by 50% on kickoff, but it still isn’t enough to change the culture of the league.

The NFL is cracking down on players for malicious hits, with penalties and fines. Fines have reached $75,000 (the particular incident involving James Harrison of the Pittsburgh Steelers).  What does the NFL do with fines that are for blows to the head? I know some fines goes to a fund for retired players. I think a good way the NFL could help with the issue is to donate the fines from illegal hits to the head to a leading brain trauma research center, and make some headway on the issue.