Retired players, including two former Chicago Bears star players Jim McMahon and Richard Dent, have filed suit accusing the National Football League (NFL) of using painkillers to mask injuries in a “culture of drug misuse.” This filing expands the litigation over the damage former athletes suffered during their playing days. While thousands of former NFL players have sued over concussions and other head injuries sustained on the field, this case filed May 20 in federal court in San Francisco represents a new strategy to seek damages for old injuries. Mark Conrad, director of the sports business program at Fordham University’s Gabelli School of Business, made that assessment. He added:
It’s in one sense an injury-based lawsuit, but the theories behind it are quite different than the concussion lawsuits. Potentially you could have a lot of players in this case.
The eight former players who brought the suit claim the NFL administered “cocktails of medications, including opioids, local anesthetics and anti-inflammatory drugs, with little regard for drug interactions or medical histories.” As has been widely reported, the NFL already faces lawsuits over head injuries. Claims by more than 5,000 ex-players that the league hid the link between traumatic head impacts and long-term brain injuries have been consolidated in federal court in Philadelphia. A judge in January refused to approve a $914 million settlement in those cases, saying not all players would be paid. More than 500 players have signed on to the painkiller suit, including some who are also suing over concussions.
The number of players covered by the complaint if it’s approved as a group lawsuit could be much more than 500 because the majority of NFL players are medicated while playing. The complaint seeks a court order blocking the NFL from medicating players so they can play with injuries, and requiring medical testing and monitoring of players with latent injuries and addictions, as well as unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.
Mel Owens, who played for the Los Angeles Rams and is now a lawyer with Namanny Byrne & Owens, a firm located in Lake Forest, Calif., represents the Plaintiffs in this latest suit. Mel’s practice is focused on sports law for professional athletes.
Source: Claims Journal
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