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Tuesday, May 21, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

NFL Tries to Dismiss Ex-Players’ Helmet Case

PHILADELPHIA (CN) - The National Football League asked a federal judge Wednesday to dismiss a class action seeking medical monitoring for all current and former NFL players.

The suit, first reported by Courthouse News in August, says the league "turned a blind eye" for four decades as coaches encouraged players to keep fans charged up by using helmets as on-field weapons.

Seven former players, including Super Bowl-winning quarterback Jim McMahon, say the NFL conspired with team staffers to conceal the long-term brain-injury risk to which players were being exposed by the league's lax head-safety approach.

Retired players want the NFL to bankroll a medical-monitoring regime for all current and former players in light of their alleged increased risk for brain disorders like Alzheimer's.

The league fired back Wednesday, citing multiple alleged grounds to dismiss the entire case.

"Medical monitoring claims must be premised on exposure to 'proven hazardous substances' that invade the body; 'a greater risk of concussions' - the supposed 'substance' alleged by plaintiffs here - is no such thing," the league argued in a 49-page motion.

Furthermore the named retireesdo not have standing to demand medical monitoring for current NFL players, according to the NFL.

Characterizing the suit as "a workplace grievance improperly (and insufficiently) pleaded in tort," the NFL said that the players' claims hinge on the interpretation of various collective bargaining agreements and are therefore preempted by the Labor Management Relations Act.

Citing "a long line of NFL preemption precedent," the NFL said those agreements squarely address the player-safety issues raised in the suit, so the claims must be arbitrated under to the NFL's already established grievance protocol.

A scheduling conference is slated for Nov. 21.

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