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NFL concussion lawsuits may be consolidated

The dangers of brain trauma in sports have been in the news with frequency of late. From children's leagues, to high-school and college programs, to professional sports, the risk of concussion or more serious brain injury from blows to the head is real.

Almost 300 former National Football League players have brought various brain-injury lawsuits across the country about long-term exposure to concussions in league practices and games. One of the plaintiffs is former Chicago Bears offensive lineman Dan Buenning and his spouse.

These suits may be consolidated into one larger class action, probably to be litigated in Philadelphia, the site both sites prefer, in front of a single judge. The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation is considering the consolidation request after a Jan. 26 hearing. A decision is expected within two weeks.

The players allege:

  • That the NFL was negligent in how it treated player symptoms like memory problems, headaches, moodiness, sleep problems and dizziness that could have indicated concussions
  • That the NFL was fraudulent and engaged in conspiracy by keeping scientific findings from players that linked concussions and other brain trauma and the possibility of the later manifestation of brain damage

Plaintiffs say more than money, they want the league to address the need for ongoing, lifelong monitoring of players for brain damage from earlier head trauma, as well as medical care for any resulting harm.

The NFL has responded that the matter should be governed by the negotiated collective bargaining agreements, not the present lawsuits.

Source: Medill Reports, "NFL and retired players want multiple concussion related lawsuits rolled into one," Malena Caruso, Jan. 27, 2012

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