Master complaint regarding former NFL players' head injuries filed at federal court in Phila.

By Jon Campisi | Jun 8, 2012

A master personal injury class action lawsuit that could cover hundreds of former

professional football players who claim the National Football League concealed information about the dangers of sports-related head injuries has been filed at the federal courthouse in Philadelphia.

The master litigation, which was filed June 7 at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, comes on the heels of numerous individual complaints that were filed at that court, and others, in recent months.

Earlier this year, following the filing of a handful of suits by former NFL players who allege they suffered head injuries and concussions from their time on the field, the United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation ruled that the suits could be consolidated at the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia.

The litigation will play out before U.S. District Judge Anita B. Brody.

The litigation against the NFL claims that the organization concealed the risks associated with repeated head concussions and head injuries on the football field.

The master complaint was filed by attorney Jeannine M. Kenney of the Philadelphia firm Hausfeld LLP.

Kenney is listed as the plaintiffs’ liaison counsel who filed on behalf of the other attorneys representing the various former players involved in the case.

The plaintiffs in the master complaint are identified as former NFL players Gerald Allen, Joseph Kowalewski, David Little, Shawn Wooden and Ron Fellows.

The suit is filed on behalf of the aforementioned plaintiffs and others similarly situated.

Allen, a former running back for the Baltimore Colts and the Washington Redskins, experienced “repeated traumatic head impacts” during his NFL career, the suit states. He is now at an increased risk of latent brain injuries caused by the repeated head impacts and is in need of medical monitoring, the lawsuit claims.

Allen played professional football during the 1960s.

The other named plaintiffs vary in age, although each has allegedly experienced similar neurological problems to those experienced by Allen.

The complaint alleges that the NFL concealed its years-long knowledge of how a latent disease known as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CLE, could be experienced by sports figures who are continually hit in the head during professional play.

The condition can lead to diminished brain function, progressive cognitive decline and is also associated with an increased risk of suicide.

Some have speculated that the suicide death of former NFL linebacker Junior Seau early last month could be connected to the head trauma factor, although nothing definitive has been concluded as of yet.

The master lawsuit seeks court-ordered medical monitoring for players. It also seeks attorney’s fees and other costs.

According to media reports, nearly 80 other similar lawsuits have been filed in various states nationwide on behalf of former players who have experienced some of the injuries that are subject to the master litigation.

The litigation claims that while the NFL knew of the dangers relating to head injuries as far back as the 1970s, it “turned a blind eye” to this revelation and continued to urge the players to use their helmeted heads to run into other players.

The reason for this, the lawsuit claims, is that fans enjoy the violence of the sport, and the sports organization, in turn, makes a tremendous amount of money by pleasing the fans.


The federal case number for the master litigation is 2:12-cv-032224-AB.

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