According to reports, a Philadelphia judge will begin hearing oral arguments in the NFL brain injuries lawsuits in approximately two months. The judge set a hearing for April 9 to consider requests by the NFL to have the lawsuits dismissed.
In the lawsuits, former NFL players allege that they have developed or are at risk of developing degenerative brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) as a result of the multiple head injuries they sustained while playing football. Some of the lawsuits were filed by the families of former football players who were determined to have brain damage in posthumous autopsies.
NFL officials argue that the claims made in the lawsuits are labor disputes, which should be governed by the league’s collective bargaining agreement with the players. If this was the case, the claims would have to be resolved by arbitrators instead of the court system.
However, thousands of former players and their attorneys contend that the claims represent non-labor issues that have grounds to be heard in court. The players are arguing that NFL officials knew about the harmful effects of multiple head injuries but did little to nothing to protect or warn the players.
In response, NFL officials have maintained that they did not intentionally mislead the players as to the long-term effects of multiple concussions and that they did what they could to protect the health of the players.
More than 100 lawsuits involving hundreds of former players have been consolidated in Philadelphia court under the care of this judge. Thousands of additional players have filed separate claims in other courts throughout the country. According to experts, it could take a decade before all of the cases are wrapped up.
Source: WKYC.com, “Arguments in NFL concussion suits slated for April,” Jan. 29, 2013