A Reuters article today suggested that the scandal around the New Orleans Saints and its bounty system will strengthen the hand of attorneys representing ex-NFL players in their concussion lawsuits against the league.
Specifically, author Leigh Jones wrote that the scandal could help the attorneys “overcome a major hurdle they face in bringing the actions due to collective bargaining agreements between the teams and players.
“The NFL collective bargaining agreement in general prohibits players and former players from filing lawsuits against their teams in court and instead requires them to bring any disputes to arbitration. The NFL asserts that the concussion lawsuits violate that agreement and should be resolved in arbitration.
“The plaintiffs contend that they are entitled to file the actions in court because of the alleged fraudulent conduct of the NFL, which, they assert, lied about the dangers of repeated concussions.
“Adding claims that the players received concussions due to a tackle rewarded by the bounty system, which violate NFL rules, would bolster the players’ arguments that the collective bargaining agreement does not apply because of the misconduct.”
However, Michael McCann, director of the Sports Law Institute at Vermont Law School, told the wire service that the challenge will be in proving that a player’s concussion was the result of a rewarded hit. “Causation will be a huge issue,” he said.
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