Category Archives: Football
(Editor’s Note: What follows in an excerpt of a piece that appears in the June Concussion Litigation Reporter, which publishes tomorrow.)
By Matthew Chantler, of Mills & Reeve LLP
The National Football League (NFL) appeared to have reached a settlement with a number of former players worth more than $765 million for concussion-related sports claims, however the judge has reportedly rejected this deal. The judge had to evaluate whether the proposed settlement was fair and reasonable and stated that she was concerned that not all of the retired NF players who ultimately receive a qualifying diagnosis or their families will be paid.
The players had brought an action against the NFL for long-term damage caused by playing American football. Evidence was relied upon that linked repeated blows to the head with problems in later life. It was alleged that the NFL was aware about these potential problems as early as the 1970s but took no meaningful steps to address the issue until much later. The NFL had proposed the settlement with no admission of liability.
The case raises serious questions about the actions of sporting bodies and individuals in this country, for example sports governing bodies, event organisers, referees, coaches etc, and in particular the conduct of employers.
It must be remembered by clubs that they have a duty of care to employees. The duty extends to circumstances where a third party who the employer has entrusted with the performance of its duty to take reasonable care is negligent. Arguably, in contrast to the employer’s duty of care is the employer’s, and often the employee’s, desire to win. We often hear of players playing after receiving pain killing injections or after receiving medical opinion that they should not participate in the game – sometimes after the player has insisted on playing and sometimes when pressure has been applied on the player to play in an important game. It will be interesting to see whether any claims are pursued against employers for injuries suffered in these situations.
In light of the NFL case …
Philanthropist Steve Tisch, co-owner of the New York Giants, has pledged $10 million to the department of neurosurgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA for the BrainSPORT Program, which has been renamed the UCLA Steve Tisch BrainSPORT Program.
The new funding — the single largest gift from an individual to a medical center for a concussion-related initiative — will enable UCLA to create the first U.S. fellowship program to train pediatric neurologists who specialize in sports concussions, and establish the world’s most sophisticated research, prevention, diagnosis and treatment program for concussions and brain injuries, with a particular emphasis on young athletes.
“As the father of children who are athletes, and as an NFL owner, I greatly value the positive role that sports play in people’s lives and am personally concerned about sports concussions,” said Tisch. “UCLA runs one of the best youth concussion programs in the nation, and I’m honored that my gift will allow the program to accelerate and expand its efforts to help kids, parents and coaches understand how to prevent and treat concussions and enjoy the sports that they love.”
The BrainSPORT (Brain Sports concussion Prevention Outreach Research and Treatment) Program was founded in 2012 by UCLA’s Dr. Christopher Giza. Integrating the expertise of clinicians and scientists at the UCLA Brain Injury Research Center and in pediatric neurology, neuropsychology and sports medicine, the program provides research-based treatment for sports concussions in school-age to professional athletes.
As director of the UCLA Steve Tisch BrainSPORT Program, Giza’s immediate goal is to develop an age-appropriate concussion-evaluation tool that blends baseline testing, recordings from advanced biomechanical sensors, and expert neurological and cognitive exams. The tests will measure a concussion’s severity, determine the treatment and guide plans for the affected athlete’s return to competition.
“Mr. Tisch’s generous gift will be an enormous game-changer, enabling us to create diagnostic tools customized to younger athletes,” said Giza, who is a professor of neurosurgery and pediatric neurology at the Geffen School of Medicine and Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA. “Currently, young athletes are assessed with adult tests — but kids aren’t little adults. With the right diagnosis and personalized care, kids can recover completely from concussion.”