Civil Conspiracy Alleged in Lawsuit on Behalf of Former NFL Players Against NFL Players Association

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New Lawsuit Argues that NFLPA was Complicit with League in Covering up Concussion Risks to Players. The plaintiffs are represented by attorneys from The Regan Law Firm, Shaffer Lombardo Shurin, Langdon & Emison and Yonke Law LLC.

A group of former National Football League players has filed lawsuits against the NFL Players Association, alleging it failed to take necessary steps to protect players from traumatic brain injuries in the face of overwhelming medical evidence that on-field concussions lead directly to such injuries. Former NFL players Neil Smith, Anthony Davis, Ladell Betts, Christian Ballard and Gregory Westbrooks are among the plaintiffs in this case, which seeks medical monitoring and financial compensation for alleged long-term chronic injuries, financial losses, expenses and intangible losses suffered as a result of intentional and negligent tortious misconduct by the NFLPA. The class action matter is filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. (E.D.Mo: Ballard et al. v. NFLPA et al.: 4:14-cv-1267)

Kansas City-based law firms The Regan Law Firm, Shaffer Lombardo Shurin, Langdon & Emison and Yonke Law LLC are leading the lawsuit. The claims filed assert that the NFLPA has been aware of the evidence linking repetitive traumatic brain injuries (TBI) to long-term neurological problems for decades, but it deliberately ignored the risks to players and failed to communicate this critical information to them and to the general public.

As pointed out in the suit, DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the NFLPA, said to Congress in 2009 that “for far too long, our former players were left adrift (and) we were complicit in the lack of leadership and accountability but that ends now.” At further hearings before the House Judiciary Committee, Smith testified “there is simply no justification for the NFL to have previously ignored or discredited” the body of research available to that point.

Plaintiff Neil Smith, a six-time Pro Bowl selection, played for the Kansas City Chiefs from 1988 to 1996 and won two Super Bowls with the Denver Broncos, while Ladell Betts played professional football for the Washington Redskins from 2002 through 2009 and for the New Orleans Saints in 2010. Anthony Davis won a Super Bowl championship with the Baltimore Ravens. Greg Westbrooks played for multiple teams during his NFL career. In 2011, Christian Ballard was drafted in the fourth round by the Minnesota Vikings; he retired from the NFL in 2013. The lawsuit alleges that during their careers, these players sustained multiple repetitive traumatic head impacts and concussions during practices and games, which were never acknowledged and never treated.

The petition argues that over the years, these plaintiffs as well as their colleagues in the league paid thousands of dollars in dues to the NFLPA. The NFLPA, through its representatives and agents, assured players that it would protect their best interests and owed to its members a fiduciary duty.

“We believe that the most important resource in the NFL is the players, and the most essential part of a player’s body is the brain,” said attorney Kevin Regan, who has represented NFL players in other matters.

The suit alleges that, “At all times, the NFLPA has had unparalleled access to and knowledge of data relating to the relationship between head impacts on football players and cognitive decline. This access to and knowledge of data comes from the NFLPA’s awareness of the growing body of scientific literature on the subject, its own medical consultants, its own requested or commissioned studies on the subject, its participation in the Retirement Board of the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle NFL Player Retirement Plan (“Retirement Board”), and its participation in the Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee (the “MTBI Committee”).”

The suit also argues that rather than informing the players of the results regarding nervous system disorders, the NFLPA instead deliberately concealed the results of the studies that had been commissioned for the players’ protection. The NFLPA supplied false and misleading information regarding the risk of harm and engaged in a long-running course of fraudulent and negligent conduct, according to the argument from the legal team.

The lawsuit further contends that the players association engaged in a campaign of disinformation designed to dispute accepted and valid research regarding the connection between repetitive head injuries or concussions and degenerative brain disease; and to create a falsified body of research that the NFLPA could cite as proof that truthful and accepted neuroscience on the subject was inconclusive and subject to doubt.

About the lawsuit: Together the four firms of Shaffer Lombardo Shurin, The Regan Law Firm, Langdon & Emison and Yonke Law LLC continue to accept additional plaintiffs in related personal injury lawsuits related to professional football injuries. To learn more about this body of litigation, you can visit the group’s website at

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Bob Langdon

Kevin Regan
since: 07/2014
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