The family of deceased professional football player Junior Seau is suing the NFL and the manufacturers of the helmets that the player wore. The family is pursuing a wrongful death claim, saying that the league prioritized profits over their duty to warn players of the dangerous nature of their jobs.
Research has shown that repeated concussions can cause the development of a severe brain injury and is linked to a condition known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) which is linked to severe depression and has been stated as a major cause of several suicides, including Seau's.
In addition to the wrongful death claim, his family also believes that the NFL should be held liable for fraud and negligence. Their 56-page complaint that was recently filed alleges that the NFL had Seau return to the field after suffering from hard hits to his head that made him dazed. Eventually he began showing signs of a severe concussion, including dizziness, insomnia, headaches, and memory loss. Later on he also became uncharacteristically violent and aggressive, which are both known symptoms of CTE.
There are already thousands of cases pending against the National Football League in relation to the league's handling of players head injuries. Those cases, many of which have been consolidated into a few class action lawsuits, allege that the NFL knew that players faced a serious risk of long term traumatic brain injuries and that the league did not warn players of the risk, provide sufficient safety equipment, or provide them with adequate treatment when they suffered a concussion.
The class action lawsuits filed by the other players say that the NFL intentionally disregarded legitimate scientific findings about the effects of concussions like those suffered regularly by professional football players. According to some, the league has known about the risks to players since the 1920s but has failed to enact any meaningful safety policies to help avoid these injuries.
If these allegations are true then the league will be held responsible for Seau's wrongful death and hopefully for the harm to the thousands of other players as well.
Source: Courthouse News Service, "Junior Seau's Family Sues NFL for Wrongful Death," Matt Reynolds, Jan. 25, 2013
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