Lawyers for the National Football League and for the 4,000 players suing it over the issue of brain damage faced off in court Tuesday in Philadelphia. They argued before a federal judge who will decide if the litigation should be dismissed.
The players’ lawyer, David Frederick, got the best sound bite for the day when he alleged that the NFL had “glorified” violence and profited from it, according to ESPN.com. http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/9151540/court-hears-arguments-nfl-concussions
Frederick also got in a good shot when he pointed out that the league had formed a Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee in 1994, yet hid or didn’t acknowledge the growing evidence that repeated head trauma — concussion — leads to permanent brain damage.
In turn, NFL attorney Paul Clement told U.S. District Court Judge Anita Brody that under the players’ collective bargaining agreement, teams are responsible for the safety and health of players, ESPN.com reported. Therefore, he maintains the claims should be arbitrated, not litigated.
Ultimately, Brody will rule on whether the 200 lawsuits brought on behalf of current, former and deceased NFL players should go to trial or be dismissed, handled by arbitration.
According to ESPN.com, Brody asked a number of questions regarding whether the players’ contract was specific enough when it came to safety issues. Frederick claimed that the contract was “silent” on head injuries, ESPN.com reported.
The crowd at the hearing included Mary Ann Easterling, the widow of former Atlanta Falcons player Ray Easterling. He was the lead plaintiff in the litigation, but committed suicide last year. Kevin Turner, a former Philadelphia Eagles player who now suffers from Lou Gehrig’s disease, was also present.