In a lawsuit that could have a significant impact on the NFL, the family of Junior Seau has filed a wrongful death lawsuit in California Superior Court against the league, according to the Associated Press.
Seau committed suicide last May at age 43. He was posthumously diagnosed with diachronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) last month. Seau shot himself in the chest.
The suit claims that through "acts or omissions," the NFL hid the dangers of repetitive blows to the head. The AP reported the plaintiffs are Seau's ex-wife Gina, his children Tyler, Sydney, Jake and Hunter, and Bette Hoffman, the trustee of Seau's estate.
The Seau family is also suing helmet manufacturer Riddell Inc., claiming it was "negligent in their design, testing, assembly, manufacture, marketing, and engineering of the helmets," according to the AP story.
The Seau family put out a statement on the lawsuit to the AP:
"We were saddened to learn that Junior, a loving father and teammate, suffered from CTE," the family said in the statement. "While Junior always expected to have aches and pains from his playing days, none of us ever fathomed that he would suffer a debilitating brain disease that would cause him to leave us too soon.
"We know this lawsuit will not bring back Junior. But it will send a message that the NFL needs to care for its former players, acknowledge its decades of deception on the issue of head injuries and player safety, and make the game safer for future generations."
An NFL spokesman told the league's website, "Our attorneys will review it and respond to the claims appropriately through the court." The AP reported more than 3,800 players have sued the NFL over head injuries in at least 175 cases in recent years.
The AP included some of the claims of negligence made in the lawsuit:
"The NFL knew or suspected that any rule changes that sought to recognize that link (to brain disease) and the health risk to NFL players would impose an economic cost that would significantly and adversely change the profit margins enjoyed by the NFL and its teams," the lawsuit says, according to the report.
In an interesting twist, the suit also lays some blame on NFL Films for some of its videos, saying they promote violence:
"In 1993's 'NFL Rocks,' Junior Seau offered his opinion on the measure of a punishing hit: 'If I can feel some dizziness, I know that guy is feeling double [that],'" the suit said, according to AP.
The NFL has previously denied that it misled players on safety issues.
Seau's suicide was a tragic story in NFL circles. Now it is also an important legal issue for the league and its ex-players.
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