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article imageJunior Seau's family sues NFL, claims wrongful death

By Yukio Strachan     Jan 23, 2013 in Sports
San Diego - The family of Junior Seau filed a wrongful death suit against the NFL Wednesday, saying the former San Diego Chargers linebacker shot and killed himself because the NFL hid information from him about the dangers of playing football and brain disease.
The 59-page wrongful death suit, filed in California Superior Court in San Diego, contends that Seau took his own life last May because the NFL hid the dangers of repetitive blows to the head and deliberately ignored and concealed evidence of the risks associated with traumatic brain injuries, the lawsuit alleges, The Associated Press reported.
This month, the National Institutes of Health reported that an examination of tissue samples from Seau’s brain showed he had Chronic Traumatic Encephelopathy, or C.T.E., a degenerative brain disease linked to repeated head hits and brain trauma.
"For many decades, evidence has link repetitive mild traumatic brain injury to long-term neurological problems," the complaint reads. "The NFL was aware of the evidence and risks associated with repetitive traumatic brain injuries for many decades, but deliberately ignored and actively concealed the information from the players, including the late Junior Seau."
The lawsuit claims money was behind the NFL's actions.
"The NFL knew or suspected that any rule changes that sought to recognize that link (to brain disease) and the health risk to NFL players would impose an economic cost that would significantly and adversely change the profit margins enjoyed by the NFL and its teams," the Seaus said in the suit.
Because the league establishes rules regarding player safety, it "has unilaterally shouldered for itself a duty to provide players with rules and information that protect players as much as possible from short-term and long-term health risks," the lawsuit alleges.
The lawsuit accuses the league of glorifying the violence in pro football, and creating the impression that delivering big hits "is a badge of courage which does not seriously threaten one's health."
It singles out NFL Films and some of its videos for promoting the brutality of the game.
"In 1993's 'NFL Rocks,' Junior Seau offered his opinion on the measure of a punishing hit: 'If I can feel some dizziness, I know that guy is feeling double (that)," the suit says.
Helmet manufacturer Riddell Inc., also is included in the lawsuit. The Seau family claims Riddell was "negligent in their design, testing, assembly, manufacture, marketing, and engineering of the helmets" used by NFL players. The suit goes on to say the helmets were unreasonably dangerous and unsafe.
Former Chicago Bears defensive back Dave Duerson lawsuit
A similar suit against the NFL and Riddell was filed last February in Cook County, Ill., by the estate of former Chicago Bears defensive back Dave Duerson, who died in February 2011 of a self­-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest.
Prior to his death at age 50, the late Bears star glorified the violent, macho football culture, The Chicago Tribune writes.
Duerson romanticized nights before Notre Dame games when he put himself in the proper mindset by reading Jack Tatum's book "They Call Me Assassin."
"There is nothing like hearing the air rush out of another man,'' Duerson told listeners on his Voice America Sports Internet radio show taped on Oct. 21, 2010, four months before his suicide.
"The game is protected (and) I'm pissed off today,'' Duerson continued. "The Big Hit has been told to turn in his pads and jockstrap. I understand they don't want us using helmets as a weapon but this thing about devastating hits, come on.
"If I was playing today I certainly would have taken my shots. With the way they changed this game, now we can't give (receivers) a big blow. That's what this game was built on."
Though Duerson's suit was initially filed individually in a county court, it has since been consolidated into a master complaint in federal court in Philadelphia of about 190 suits by about 4,000 former NFL players, USA Today Sports reported. The suits allege that for decades the NFL knowingly failed to protect players from concussions and warn them of their potential long-term effects, including dementia.
The NFL consistently has denied allegations similar to those in the lawsuit,and has asked that the cases be dismissed, arguing that the league’s collective bargaining agreement with its players covers these issues.
Greg Aiello, a spokesman for the N.F.L., said the league’s lawyers would “respond to the claims appropriately through the court,” The New York Times states.
According to court papers, the plaintiffs in the suit are Gina Seau, Junior's ex-wife; his children, Tyler, Sydney, Jake and Hunter, and Bette Hoffman, a trustee of Seau's estate.
The Seaus are seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.
“We were saddened to learn that Junior, a loving father and teammate, suffered from C.T.E.,” Seau’s family said in a statement after its complaint was filed. “We know this lawsuit will not bring back Junior. But it will send a message that the N.F.L. needs to care for its former players, acknowledge its decades of deception on the issue of head injuries and player safety, and make the game safer for future generations.”
Seau was 43 when he shot himself in the chest at his home in California in May. He was one of the best linebackers during his 20 seasons in the NFL from 1990 to 2009; he played with the San Diego Chargers, Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots and made approximately $28.2 million over his career.
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