Arguments presented in NFL concussions-lawsuit hearing

The SportsXchange

Lawyers for former players who are suing the NFL over concussions said Tuesday during a hearing that the league has profited from "glorified violence."

David Frederick, who is representing the players, also said in the Philadelphia hearing that the league knew about concussion issues for decades prior to the creation of the NFL's Mild Traumatic Brain Injury committee in 1994.

"It set up a sham committee designed to get information about neurological risks, but in fact spread misinformation," Frederick said.

More than 4,000 former players, who claim to be suffering from ailments ranging from dementia, depression, Alzheimer's disease and other neurological problems to no symptoms at all, are the defendants in a single lawsuit has been joined from hundreds of smaller lawsuits.

The National Football League officials have argued that it has always followed the best available science and made player safety a top priority.

NFL lawyer Paul Clement argued the teams bear the responsibility for the players' safety under the players' collective bargaining agreement.

"The one thing constant throughout is these agreements put the primary role and responsibility on some combination of the players themselves, the unions and the clubs," Clement said.

He added later at a news conference: "The clubs are the ones who had doctors on the sidelines who had primary responsibility for sending players back into the game."

The players' lawyers want to keep the litigation in federal court so they can use the discovery process to access NFL files -- and see what the league knew when. The NFL says that issue belongs in arbitration under terms of the collective bargaining agreement.

Senior U.S. District Judge Anita B. Brody, heard the arguments. She may take weeks to make a ruling. She could side with the players, meaning she would then rule on player-safety issues and their validity. Those issues might include debates over concussions research and the claims of fraud by the players. The home states of the various lawsuits would then have to try the individual damage claims. If she sides with the NFL, then the awards would go to arbitration under the collective bargaining agreement.
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