Tarnished Twenty- The FindLaw Sports Law Blog

New NFL Concussion Lawsuit Cites New Evidence, Admissions

It's been a bad month for the NFL and its concussion problem. Earlier in the month, the NFL's senior vice president for health and safety admitted that there was "certainly" a link between playing football and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Then last week The New York Times exposed the NFL's already flawed concussion research as being even worse than previously believed.

Now, a new lawsuit (filed by an old plaintiff) is citing this new evidence as the basis for new litigation.

Old Lawsuit ...

Former Detroit Lions defensive Tracy Scroggins was one of the original litigants in the main concussion lawsuit, which the NFL agreed to settle for $1 billion. Though 70 former players appealed the settlement (the Third Circuit Court of Appeals is expected to deliver a ruling on that by the end of May) and another 200 or so opted out of the settlement, Scroggins was not one of these.

Therefore, the NFL believes his new lawsuit, which includes RICO allegations, will be tossed out. NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy told USA Today:

"The complaint is barred by the concussion litigation settlement and we expect it to be dismissed. Mr. Scroggins is a member of the settlement class and did not choose to opt out. He is eligible to pursue the benefits provided under the settlement agreement, but may not pursue any action in court, either on his own behalf or on behalf of other former players, more than 99 percent of whom have accepted the settlement."

... New Facts

Scroggins and his attorneys disagree. They point to Jeff Miller's comments during a U.S. House of Representatives' Committee on Energy and Commerce roundtable discussion on concussions: "You asked the question whether I thought there was a link and I think certainly based on Dr. McKee's research that there's a link because she's found CTE in a number of retired football players."

The lawsuit also cites The New York Times revelation that hundreds of verified concussions were left out of a five-year league study. (It probably didn't help matters that the Times also reported that the NFL "shared lobbyists, lawyers and consultants" with the tobacco industry.)

During a week when the lead plaintiff in the first NFL concussion lawsuit lost his life to ALS, it's more bad news for a league that, for the first time, might want a reprieve from the headlines.

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