NEWARK (CN) - Twelve NFL veterans say the league gave them an anti-inflammatory drug that increased their chances of serious brain injury, while it "reprehensibly failed to inform players of the true risks associated with concussions".
The complaint states: "Despite overwhelming medical evidence that on field concussions led directly to brain injuries and frequently had tragic repercussions for their retired players, the NFL not only failed to take effective action in an attempt to protect players from suffering a similar fate, but reprehensibly failed to inform players of the true risks associated with concussions, instead misrepresenting and/or concealing medical evidence on the issue through its 'hand-picked' committee of unqualified physicians who were purportedly researching same. "While athletes in other professional sports who had suffered concussions were being effectively 'shut down' for long periods of time or full seasons, NFL protocol was to return players who had suffered concussions that very game," according to the federal complaint. (Emphasis in complaint.)
Even after establishing the Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee to study head injuries, concussions and post-concussion syndrome in NFL players, the league disregarded independent studies that contradicted the committee's findings, failed to acknowledge a correlation between concussions and brain injuries, failed to acknowledge the link between playing football and long-term brain injuries, misled players about the dangers associated with sustaining a concussion and playing immediately afterwards and failed to change league policies, according to the 37-page complaint.
The players also say the league failed to warn them about the effects of Toradol, an anti-inflammatory drug they say they all received intravenously or orally. Toradol, which inhibits platelet function, is not to be used in patients at "high risk of bleeding" and "is not to be used if the recipient has a closed head injury or bleeding in the brain," the complaint states.
In sum: "Wanting their players on the field instead of training tables, and in an attempt to protect a multibillion-dollar business, the NFL has purposefully attempted to obfuscate the issue and has repeatedly refuted the connection between concussions and brain injury to the disgust of Congress, which has blasted the NFL's handling of the issue on multiple occasions, and expert neurologists who know the score. The unfortunate reality is that in the 17 years since its formation, the MTBI has served as nothing short of a roadblock to any real attempt to protect NFL players from concussions and resultant brain injury. In fact, the committee's concealment and misrepresentation of relevant medical and study information over the years has caused an increased risk of life-threatening injury to players who were being kept in the dark.
"At the end of the day, the NFL has not only failed to satisfy its duty to take reasonable steps necessary to protect players from devastating head injuries, they have done everything in their power to hide the issue and mislead their players concerning the risks associated with concussions."
The plaintiffs are Jim Finn, Scott Dragos, Joe Horn, Jerome Pathon, Isaiah Kacyvenski, Brad Scioli, Matt Joyce, Dan Collins, Paul Zukauskas, Sean Berton, Sean Ryan, and Chris Walsh.
They seek punitive damages for conspiracy, fraud, fraudulent concealment, negligence, and negligent misrepresentation.
The only defendant is the National Football League.
The plaintiffs' lead counsel is James Cecchi with Carella, Byrne, Cecchi, Olstein, Brody & Agnello, of Roseland, N.J.
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