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Malena Caruso/Medill

The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation approved the consolidation of all concussion lawsuits against the NFL filed by former players.

Concussion lawsuits piling up on NFL

by Malena Caruso
Feb 21, 2012

Nearly 140 retired National Football League players filed lawsuits against the NFL in February, claiming negligence and failure to protect players from the risks and effects of concussions while playing in the league.

These players, who filed in Louisiana and Philadelphia, now make the total number of players filing against the NFL close to 550.

The increase in litigation comes after the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation granted the consolidation of all concussion lawsuits against the NFL filed by retired players.

The decision came quietly on Tuesday, Jan. 31, leading up to Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis.

“The decision came quick, to our surprise,” said Craig Mitnick, who represents players involved in lawsuits based in Philadelphia. “Litigation is picking up quickly. I represent 160 players.”

The new players filing include former Chicago Bears kicker Louie Aguiar, who played from 1991 through 2000 for the New York Jets, Kansas City Chiefs, Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears.

Lawyers representing players already involved in lawsuits against the NFL are now working to get the single class action organized, said Craig Mitnick, a plaintiff lawyer with his own firm based in New Jersey.

The complaint asks that the NFL protect players, provide treatment and monitor cognitive injuries suffered while playing in the league, Mitnick said.

The next step is for the NFL to answer the complaint. The league has 30 days after the decision was made to answer the complaint; Tuesday was day 21. March 1 is the deadline to answer the complaint.

Judge Anita Brody, of the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of Philadelphia, will hear this single class action.

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy, vice president of communications, responded to the newly granted class action via email:

“The NFL has long made player safety a priority and continues to do so. Any allegation that the NFL intentionally sought to mislead players has no merit. It stands in contrast to the league's actions to better protect players and advance the science and medical understanding of the management and treatment of concussions.”

No future court dates have been set at this time. In the meantime, Mitnick sees many more retired players and their wives coming forward and to file lawsuits against the NFL, now that all concussion cases will be consolidated into the class action.