Concussion and Helmet Lawsuits Update

Feb 4, 2012

EDITOR’S NOTE: Dave will be heading in to the hospital tomorrow morning (Tuesday) for his scheduled total right hip replacement. We’ll keep you posted on his progress. In the meantime, we’ve been following the growing number of new concussion and helmet lawsuits over the past couple of months from all across the country. It’s been hard keeping up with all the details and lawyers and players behind each suit. Last week, many of them were consolidated in a Federal Court in Pennsylvania under Judge Anita Brody. Dave asked one of his attorneys, Jason Luckasevic, from the firm Goldberg Persky & White, to provide an overview and summary of what has happened so far.
Hi Dave,
I’m sending you this email as requested to provide you a detailed update on the concussion lawsuits. As you know, my litigation team filed the first two concussion lawsuits ever on behalf of over 120 retired players and their spouses. These cases were originally filed in California state court. Shortly thereafter, these cases were removed by the NFL to Federal Court. While the cases have been progressing, without any surprises, many other law firms have joined the concussion litigation battle against the NFL. This caused the NFL to ask the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation to consolidate all of the pending concussion lawsuits in front of Judge Anita Brody in the Federal Court of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. All sides believed that consolidation of these cases for consistency in pre-trial rulings was appropriate and fair. As a result, our cases were sent to Judge Brody.
As background, my litigation team has studied the legalities of the concussion epidemic from its inception. We have compiled a litigation team that we believe is of SUPER BOWL caliber to handle this groundbreaking litigation. As you know, my law firm of Goldberg, Persky & White has handled mass torts in Pittsburgh, West Virginia, Ohio and Michigan since the inception of asbestos lawsuits in the 1970s. Our co-counsel from Miami is Russomanno & Borrello. They are the nationally known lawyers who handled the O.J. McDuffie lawsuit to a very successful large verdict. Our final member is Tom Girardi. Tom is likely the most recognizable lawyer in the country due to his success in the “Erin Brockovich” litigation.
We expect that in the upcoming months we will share our legal theories in court to overcome the argument by the NFL that retirees are covered by the collective bargaining agreement. Believe it or not, some things never changed. The NFL still believes you, as retirees, are covered by their collective bargaining process.
Moreover, we continue to be the only lawyers who have also joined NFL Properties and Riddell in our lawsuits as responsible defendants. These two companies licensed unsafe helmets for many years. I encourage you to watch the recent ESPN Outside the Lines clip that discusses Riddell and the NFL’s monopoly on helmets.

With guys like you and our 200 plus other clients including Tony Dorsett, Mark Duper, Joe DeLamielleure, Joe Harris, Ronnie Lippett, Rory Graves and others, we expect many others to join the battle with our team, as well as the other law firms who have joined this litigation. And we all intend to work together on behalf of the retired players who continue to suffer the ill effects of repeated concussions.
On a final note, I also wanted to share this recent interview from one of our many clients. Click HERE to read the entire article - the accompanying video is below:

I wish you the very best throughout 2012. I can be reached for more information at the following contact numbers.
Jason Luckasevic
(412) 338-9460 — office
(412) 400-6570 — cell

12 Responses so far | Have Your Say!

  1. Dave Pear
    February 6th, 2012 at 1:11 am #

    Dave Pear

    On Tuesday after the Super Bowl (Feb. 7, 2012) I’m going into the hospital for a total right hip replacement. The NFL’s Joint Replacement Program will not be paying for one penny of this $40,000 operation! NOTHING

    I tried to access this program when I had a total left hip replacement in 2008 and after 70 hours of going back and forth with Valerie Cross, Eden Halady and Mary-Ann Fleming, all I received was enough to cover my two seat cushions and a $5 co-pay. That’s it. I’ve never heard of a program where you have to come out-of-pocket for your medical bills then get on your knees and beg the Player Care Foundation to reimburse. OUTRAGEOUS!

    We’ll be posting pictures on the blog showing the seriousness of this bloody surgery so if you have the stomach to watch, please do.

    I have already have one disc fused in my neck and three in my lower back. Now I’ll have two artificial hips along with numerous concussions and the NFL has paid ZERO (nothing), not even a Get Well card.

    Dave Pear

  2. Gregg Bingham
    February 6th, 2012 at 8:50 am #

    Greg Bingham

    I know for a fact that horses get better treatment from the humans who “use” them up.

    Gregg Bingham
    Houston Oilers
    1973 – 1984

  3. Laurie Jacobs
    February 6th, 2012 at 8:54 am #

    I am not inclined to believe or think that these lawsuits are fair to the degree that the NFL could not have known the long term impacts of concussions on any players. They did not deliberately mislead anyone as I see it. It was a risk you were taking when you decided to play football, knowing full well there was the possibility of injuries including spinal cord, head, limb etc. I am sure the equipment that was available was the best they could offer in light of the information they had.

    The medical community is just now starting to realize how serious concussions are and the long term effects, and they are making huge efforts to change rules and care regarding same. The risks of any job are that: Risks. You took those risks and now you want what? Money.

    I see that they are making advances and changing the rules and that is what needs to be done for the benefit of future generations.

    Laurie Jacobs
    Buffalo NY

  4. Larry Kaminski
    February 6th, 2012 at 9:12 am #

    Larry Kaminski

    Independent players,

    I have to agree with Greg Bingham. I recently sent a strong letter to the Denver Bronco Alumni association regarding the action of the Bowlen family to deny our California Workers Comp claims by taking us to Federal Court. A copy was also sent to John Elway.

    Needless to say, my so-called Brothers-in-Arms did not return my communication with a call, note, or anything else. Elway …not a concern either. This is shameful and disgusting!

    Men, keep up the fight and best to you all.

    Larry Kaminski
    Denver Broncos

  5. Sam Bowers
    February 6th, 2012 at 9:28 am #

    Sam Bowers Generals

    I played 1 year with the Chicago Bears in 1987 but I also played with other teams: USFL, CFL. I would like to file for this concussion lawsuit. How do I go about doing this? Please forward my e-mail and phone number to the parties involved.

    Sam Bowers
    Chicago Bears

  6. Larry Kaminski
    February 6th, 2012 at 9:37 am #

    Larry Kaminski

    Laurie –

    When you said, “I am not inclined to believe or think that these lawsuits are fair to the degree that the NFL could not have known the long term impacts of concussions on any players”

    …that is exactly where the rubber will meet the road. AKA – when did they know? That being said, just like the coal industry and the smoking issue with cancer, it will no doubt be the start of when the clock started ticking and what they did once it started ticking and finally equates to liability going forward.

    Larry Kaminski

  7. RobertinSeattle
    February 6th, 2012 at 10:19 am #


    In answer to Laurie from Buffalo –

    Thanks for your comments. When we first started this Blog over 4 years ago, most fans were of the opinion that retired players should have known the risks when they chose to play football. Over time, as we posted more personal tales from the players themselves as well as more facts from doctors and professionals in their fields, a greater number of fans and the general public began to understand the long-term damages from concussions and football. So as you suggest, with more knowledge comes more oversight. However, the lawsuits that have become more common in the past year are the tip of the iceberg as more details continue to emerge about the NFL’s own culpability in not only denying the long-term effects of untreated concussions but also their established policies with denying any damage whatsoever. The lawsuits will hopefully resolve many of those questions that are being asked and hopefully provide some care and closure for those who paid dearly for their love of the game.

    The best question is one that always defines these lawsuits and/or crimes: What did they know and when did they know it?

    In the big tobacco lawsuits, it was eventually uncovered through discovery of internal communications that the tobacco companies were well aware of the numerous medical studies that tied smoking cigarettes to long-term health damage and lung cancer. If you’ve followed some of the events over recent years, you’ll realize that the NFL consistently – and very publicly – perpetuated the myth that concussions did NOT cause any long-term brain damage. Why, they even had their own “experts” on a “Mild” Traumatic Brain Injury Committee to declare it as fact, going so far as to testify before Congress. The NFL’s own Dr. No – Ira Casson – was subsequently dismissed in the light of overwhelming evidence (and including medical studies dating back to the 1920’s).

    To make sure that the players were lulled into a false sense of safety, each of the teams also had their own paid doctors – whom the players trusted to be bound by their Hippocratic Oaths – to tell them they were cleared to continue playing. In fact, we’re now finding out that many of these doctors competed to get those positions simply for the prestige and tickets to the game. And as you may have read in this recent post, the main helmet manufacturer, Riddell, has also been included in some of the suits. Riddell has been the official helmet of the NFL – all part of a long-standing sponsorship arrangement with the League. Would that be like a suspender maker paying General Motors a sponsorship fee to be the “Official Seatbelt of General Motors”? Based on that official designation, Pee Wee, high school and college coaches have been selecting Riddell helmets for their players: “If it’s good enough for the pros, then it’s good enough for us!”

    Yes, you’re right about some of the inherent risks in football (and in any physical sport). But you’re also right about the money. And greed. It’s becoming very obvious once again that the owners have gone overboard in their efforts to minimize the the damage to their employees while also minimizing its short- and long-term impact on their growing profits. At any cost. But it’s also true that there are inherent risks in anything we do in life: Playing sports, flying in an airplane, driving a car, even walking across the street. But it’s when an auto manufacturer goes out of its way to hide a fatal flaw in the safety of its cars as one example – because the bean-counters and lawyers told them they could – that it goes over the line. Then the argument about “You knew the risks when you got behind the wheel” no longer holds true. It’s one thing to make something as safe as possible for all involved but when legal and moral ethics go out the window purely for the sake of profit-at-all-costs, everyone has a problem.

    It was the court of public opinion and the court of law where big tobacco was finally held accountable for hiding what they knew from an unsuspecting public. It would look like that is where the issue of concussions and helmets will also be finally played out.

    The football field isn’t the only playing field that needs to be kept level.

  8. Ange Coniglio
    February 6th, 2012 at 1:07 pm #

    Ange Coniglio

    Laurie Jacobs writes, “They [the NFL] did not deliberately mislead anyone as I see it. It was a risk you were taking when you decided to play football, knowing full well there was the possibility of injuries including spinal cord, head, limb etc.”

    Laurie needs to be brought up to date on the denial by the NFL and its doctors – for years – that there was any relationship between concussions and the dementia and other mental conditions suffered by former players. You can’t say “the players knew” while the NFL kept denying it UNTIL RETIRED PLAYERS made an issue of it.

    Angelo F. Coniglio
    Lifelong Fan
    Remember the AFL

  9. John Hogan
    February 6th, 2012 at 3:09 pm #

    John Hogan


    Are you the daughter-in-law of Buffalo Bills great, Coach Harry Jacobs – who is a lead plaintiff in one of the concussion lawsuits?

    John Hogan
    Disability Attorney
    Retired Player Advocate

  10. Ellen Morin
    February 6th, 2012 at 5:06 pm #

    Milt Morin


    May your operation go safely and successfully. Our thoughts are with you.

    With regard to your having had disc operations, Milt also had a disc operation when he was playing football. During his recovery period, the Browns felt he should suit up because it would “look good” on the sideline. During one of the plays, the tight end got a bloody nose so they took him out of the game and put Milt in. At the huddle, Milt could not even bend over to get into the stance and had to stand erect. Keep in mind that before his operation, the team surgeon told me Milt might not walk again. You can imagine the horror I felt to see him now in the game!

    Years later when the Browns let Milt go, that doctor actually called Milt to apologize for the risk the Browns organization placed him in that day. He had to unburden himself.

    Ellen Morin
    Widow of Milton Morin (1942–2010)
    Cleveland Browns
    1966 – 1976

  11. Frederick "Rick" Hayes
    February 7th, 2012 at 1:26 am #

    Rick Hayes

    Aloha Dave:

    My thoughts will be with you this morning during your second unfunded hip ordeal. I know you’re in good hands with the UW Physicians. I always thought it ironic that the UW Hospital was the only building visible when we were knocked on our backs on that first rock-hard Monsanto AstroTurf installed in the nation. I believe the building is blocked from view now with the new construction. I hope we’re going to expose the damage that turf did to our 18 to 22-year old bodies!

    I really hope our lawyers expose the collusion between the NFL and the University Football Programs. Not only were the two involved in sharing Medical Information on Players, but they also shared the studies done on Astro-Turf and Football Equipment [Helmets]. The UW had one of the best Equipment Programs in the country. Drafted and Walk-On Players going into the NFL used to take our helmets to the Pros because the Owners placed such small funds into their Equipment Programs.

    Rick Hayes
    L.A. Rams 1974
    UW Huskies 1969-1973
    UW Huskies

  12. Ira Matthews
    February 9th, 2012 at 12:59 pm #

    Ira Matthews


    Hope your surgery goes well!

    Your Super Bowl XV Brother #43
    Ira Matthews
    Oakland Raiders 1979 – 1981
    Green Bay Packers 1982