Player Lawsuits Alleging Traumatic Brain Injury on the Rise Against Professional Sports Organizations

As the professional football season draws to a close and the hockey season is in full swing, sports related injury lawsuits are on the piling up against professional sports organizations including the NFL and NHL. Many are professional players filing suits claiming that their former employers knew or should have known about the potential for traumatic brain injury and did little to prevent such injuries. Below are two cases of currently pending litigation related to professional sports brain injury.

First, a suit was recently filed representing five former players of the professional football franchise Kansas City Chiefs. The case is Players, et al v. Kansas City Chiefs and was filed in the Circuit Court of Jackson County, Missouri in Kansas City, Missouri. The motion cites medical studies on concussion and brain trauma conducted by pathologist Harrison Martland at Rutgers in 1928. The studies showed that repetitive head smashing, the kind seen in football, could lead to a progressive brain condition known as the “punch drunk syndrome.” The syndrome term has been recognized for decades when discussing the persistent degenerative effects of boxing’s repeated strikes to the head and brain.

The players named as plaintiffs in the suit are Alexander Louis Cooper, a linebacker for the team from 1985-1991; Leonard Griffin, a defensive end from 1986-1993; Joseph Phillips, a defensive tackle from 1992-1993; Kevin Porter, a defensive back 1988-1993, and Christopher Martin, Chiefs linebacker 1988-1993. The former players claim to be subjected to chronic migraines, post-concussion syndrome, severe depression, mood swings, suicidal thoughts, and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. The National Football League has so far settled existing brain injury lawsuits to the tune of $765 million.

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