SBD/December 4, 2013/Franchises

Former Chiefs Sue Team Over Concussions After Researching NFL's $765M Settlement

Porter is one of five former Chiefs seeking unspecified damages from the team
Five former Chiefs players yesterday filed a lawsuit against the team "in an attempt to learn what the organization knew about concussions, and when it was known," according to Terez Paylor of the K.C. STAR. The group, which is comprised of Chris Martin, Kevin Porter, Joe Phillips, Louis Cooper and Leonard Griffin, is seeking undisclosed financial damages. The lawsuit "centers on two key factors." First, the five plaintiffs played between '87-'93, when there was no CBA in the NFL, and "for this reason, the players can sue an individual team rather than the league." The NFL is not named in their suit. There also was an '05 amendment to the workers’ compensation statute in Missouri that "allowed employees to sue employers in civil court if the employees declined workers’ compensation." The window allowing such suits to be filed "expires at the end of this month." Plaintiffs attorney Ken McClain yesterday said that momentum for the lawsuit "began to build when several players, led by Martin, wanted to fight back" after researching the NFL's recent $765M concussion case settlement (K.C. STAR, 12/4). In K.C., James Dornbrook noted the lawsuit alleges that the Chiefs had "knowledge of the dangers of concussions, failed to disclose the risks to players, issued inaccurate and misleading information about the risks of head trauma, and fraudulently concealed accurate information about the risks from players." The suit also alleges that plaintiff spouses were "deprived of support, companionship and comfort from their husbands and burdened with extensive medical bills" (, 12/3). In N.Y., Ken Belson cited legal experts as saying that the NFL is "unlikely to worry about any potential settlement in the case against the Chiefs." Rather, the league "will be concerned about what might emerge in court about its concussion policies" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/4).

AN ATTEMPT TO ALLAY FEARS: In K.C., Randy Covitz notes a Football Safety Clinic for Moms was held in K.C. yesterday, the third event of its kind "sponsored by the NFL and USA Football." The event "featured a panel that included NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, as well as doctors who specialize in neurosurgery and head trauma." Chiefs Chair & CEO Clark Hunt said, "Health and safety, not only at the professional level, but also at the youth level, is very important to us." Chiefs President Mark Donovan hoped that the fears of some of the women in attendance at the event were "allayed by what they heard from the experts," including Heads Up Football advisory committee members Diane Long, wife of Fox' Howie Long and mother of Rams DE Chris Long and Bears guard Kyle Long, and Diane Golic, wife of ESPN's Mike Golic. Donovan: "We can do all the safety. We can do all the statistics. We can do everything we want, but until we’ve got the moms, who make decisions, we’ve got to put this information in front of them" (K.C. STAR, 12/4). The K.C. STAR's Sam Mellinger in a front-page piece notes at the same time the clinic was taking place, former NFLers Conrad Dobler and Trent Green and former Chiefs GM Carl Peterson "were speaking on a concussion awareness panel at the Plaza Branch of the Kansas City Public Library." This "was not what the league had in mind for a quiet Tuesday" in K.C. The "strange day is one more example of the league's underwhelming attempt to limit its losses in the wake of a problem it helped create, a problem that has far-reaching consequences" (K.C. STAR, 12/4).
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