(CN) – Former Cleveland Browns wide receiver Joe Jurevicius blames the Browns and the Cleveland Clinic for a staph infection that forced him to sit out the 2008 season and may have ended his career as a professional football player. Jurevicius says he contracted the infection at the team’s training facility in Berea, Ohio, the “only care and treatment facility common to the unusually large number of Browns players who had contracted staph infections.”
In a lawsuit filed in Cuyahoga County Court, Jurevicius accuses the team and clinic doctors of misrepresenting the cleanliness of the facility and failing to warn him about the risk of infection.
He elected to have arthroscopic surgery on his right knee after the 2007 season. Though not required to receive his follow-up treatment at the training facility, he says he chose to do so after several members of the team staff, including general manager Phil Savage and head coach Romeo Crennel, repeatedly assured him and other players that the prior incidents of infection “had not been, and could not have been, contracted at the Browns training facility.”
Reassurances about the cleanliness and sterility of the training facility came after several players noted that the Berea facility was the common denominator for six Browns players who contracted staph infections in recent years, including former tight end Kellen Winslow.
Browns head athletic trainer Marty Lauzon dismissed earlier incidents of infection by blaming the affected players, implying it stemmed from their conduct away from the facility, the lawsuit claims.
Jurevicius’ post-operative regimen included having his wound, then open and bleeding, changed and cleaned at the facility. But because the therapy equipment and surfaces weren’t cleaned properly, the lawsuit claims, Jurevicius contracted his staph infection within the first few days of rehabilitation.
He says the team and its physicians should have implemented sterile techniques, or at least warned him that the facility hadn’t taken the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of staph infections.
Jurevicius, a native of northeast Ohio, was released by the Browns on March 11 after he had publicly stated his desire to play out the remainder of his career for his hometown. He even offered to take a steep pay cut to remain with the team.
He seeks actual and punitive damages for negligence, fraud, breach of fiduciary duty and employer intentional tort.
His attorney is Shannon Polk of Haber Polk LLP.