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NFL disputes retired players' brain injury lawsuit

In August, seven retired professional football players filed a class action lawsuit against the National Football League, in what has become one of many suits accusing the NFL of either negligently or purposely ignoring the potential for brain injury to football players. Now, the NFL has filed a response to the lawsuit, alleging that the plaintiffs have no grounds to sue and asking the case to be dismissed.

In the lawsuit, the retired players stated that they have "or will in the future" be diagnosed with a brain injury or illness as a result of receiving a concussion on the field. They accused the NFL of "turning a blind eye" to the increasing amount of evidence that concussions and other brain injuries resulted in severe long-term brain damage in football players.

The plaintiffs also accused NFL coaches of encouraging players to use their helmets as "offensive weapons" to "block, tackle, butt, spear, ram, and/or injure opposing players by hitting with their helmeted heads." They asked the court to order the NFL to develop and fund a monitoring system for current and former players who have suffered a concussion on the field to study the connection between football head injuries and brain illnesses such as Alzheimer's disease and dementia.

Earlier this month, the NFL filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, alleging that the players do not have standing to order the league to provide medical monitoring for current players. In addition, the NFL argues that the plaintiffs' claims are determined by various collective bargaining agreements between the players and the league, and that they are therefore preempted by federal labor laws.

We will continue to update our blog with any new developments in this case.

Source: Courthouse News, "NFL Tries to Dismiss Ex-Players' Helmet Case," Reuben Kramer, Nov. 10, 2011

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