SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - NFL retirees appealed to the 9th Circuit on Tuesday to save their class action over painkillers allegedly doled out to mask serious injuries.
Lead plaintiff Richard Dent, a former Chicago Bear, says the league treated players' injuries on the field for decades with nonprescription opioids, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and local anesthetics, with little regard for the side effects or the players' medical histories.
U.S. District Judge William Alsup dismissed the action in December 2014, finding the lawsuit must be settled under the collective bargaining agreements between the NFL and the players' union, as the crux of the claim is that players' teams mistreated them, and that the league did nothing to stop it.
Alsup said the players' retired statuses should not prevent them from arbitrating their grievances, and cited the NFL's long history of trying to address player medical care through provisions in the collective bargaining agreements.
Steven Silverman, an attorney for the retirees, said his clients' claims are not covered. "The tortious conduct as alleged in the second amended complaint is not something that is subject to a CBA under any circumstances," Silverman said in an interview. "These are allegations that the NFL Players Association clearly stated were not grieve able under the bargaining agreement."
He added: "we believe there is precedent in the circuit which is consistent with our views and we're looking forward to briefing the issues."
Lead NFL lawyers Allen Ruby, Jack DiCanio and Timothy Miller were unavailable for comment.
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