Former Detroit Lions player Tracy Scroggins filed a federal lawsuit against the NFL on Monday, alleging the league deliberately concealed the long-term effects of repeated head trauma.
The lawsuit, filed in Florida, cites the New York Times which reported that as many as 100 concussions were left out of a peer-reviewed report the NFL has touted for years.
The league issued an extensive reply to the article shortly after it was published, calling the report "false innuendo and sheer speculation" based on a handful of anecdotal references that were "twisted and contorted out of context."
In his lawsuit, Scroggins claims that he has been preliminarily diagnosed with Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy "as a result of related head trauma."
CTE, the neurodegenerative disease caused by repetitive brain trauma, can currently only be diagnosed post-mortem.
The NFL has only recently acknowledged the link between football and CTE.
During a congressional hearing, NFL executive Jeff Miller was asked if the sport and the disease were connected, to which he acknowledged, "The answer to that question is certainly yes."
During annual meetings last week in Boca Raton, Florida, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Miller's acknowledgement of the connection between football and CTE was "consistent with our position over the years."
The lawsuit brought by Scroggins alleges the NFL deliberately concealed "facts and information which caused all plaintiffs to become exposed to the harm referenced above."
Many football fans argue that players knew the risks of the game when they decided to play, which Scroggins' lawsuit appears to dispute.
The lawsuit also alleges civil conspiracy by the NFL, arguing the league "actively and deliberately conspired with its team members and/or independent contractors who were directed to continuously discount and reject the causal connection between repeated head trauma suffered...and the chronic long term effects of these injuries, including CTE."
Doing so, Scroggins argues, was "a proximate cause" of the
chronic injuries and damages suffered by the him and other football players.
Scroggins also claims extensive negligence on the part of the NFL and its handling of player safety. The lawsuit reads, in part:
The Defendant acted carelessly and negligently in its position as the regulator body for all the team members and the plaintiffs and the class members. The defendant knew or should have known that its actions or its inaction in light of the rate and extent of repeated head trauma reported in the NFL would cause harm to players in both short and long term.
The Defendant was generally careless and negligent by breaching the duty of due care it assumed for the benefit of the Plaintiffs and the class members, both generally and in the following particular respects:
a. Failing to warn of the risk of unreasonable harm resulting from repeated head trauma;
b. Failing to disclose the special risks of long term complications from repeated head
c. Failing to disclose the role that repeated head trauma has in causing CTE;
d. Failing to promulgate rules and regulations to adequately address the dangers of repeated head trauma to minimize long-term chronic cognitive problems such as CTE;
e. Misrepresenting pertinent facts that players needed to be aware of to make determinations of the safety of return to play;
f. Concealing pertinent facts;
g. Failing to adopt rules and reasonably enforce those rules to minimize the risk of players suffering from CTE
The lawsuit filed by Scroggins is separate from a class action lawsuit brought against the NFL that was settled in 2015. The $1 billion settlement is pending appeal.
In a statement to BuzzFeed News, the NFL said Scroggins was a member of that settlement class and so expected his separate lawsuit to be dismissed.
"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."
Read the full lawsuit here:
Lindsey Adler is a sports reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Lindsey Adler at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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