Posted on February 25, 2012 · Posted in Brain Injury

Roughly a year ago ex-Chicago Bear Dave Duerson committed suicide by shooting’s himself in the chest. Now his survivors want justice from the National Football League.

Duerson’s family last week filed suit against the NFL, alleging that the league has known for years that concussions sustained during the game cause permanent brain damage, but yet concealed that information from players like Duerson, according to The Chicago Tribune.,0,3393870.story

The lawsuit, filed in Cook County Circuit Court, is one of many suits that have been filed by ex-pro players against the league over the issues of concussions.

According to The Tribune, the lawsuit “also identifies six former players who reportedly suffered brain damage from playing football and later committed suicide.”

Duerson reportedly purposely shot himself in the chest, not the head, so that his brain could be studied after his death. 

His family did donate his brain to a research center at the Boston University School of Medicine, which determined that Duerson had been suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, CTE. It is believed to be caused by repetitive blows to the head, and has symptoms similar to Alzheimer’s disease.

Studies of the brains of numerous deceased ex-football and hockey players has found that they had CTE.

One of Duerson’s sons, Tregg, is a plaintiff in the suit on behalf of his family, according to The Tribune. In addition to the NFL, the suit names Riddell Inc., a helmet maker, as a defendant. “The suit alleges Riddell failed to warn players that its helmets would not prevent concussion,” The Tribune reported.

The NFL has denied that it was aware of, or hid the dangers of concussions, from its players.

Duerson went through a rough patch after he left the sport. He had financial and maritcal woes. During this period, according to the suit, Duerson complained that “there’s something going on” in his brain, according to The Tribune.          

On Feb. 17, 2011, he committed suicide in Florida.

The lawsuit essentially blames the NFL for contributing to Duerson’s death.

“If the NFL would have taken the necessary steps to oversee and protect Dave Duerson by warning him of the dangers of head trauma … (he) would not have sustained permanent damage to his brain, which contributed to his death,” the suit says, according to The Tribune.

The lawsuit charges that despite the suicides of several players, and medical research, the NFL continued to maintain that long-term brain damage and concussions weren’t linked. 

About the Author

Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice :: 800-992-9447