Hearings to be held in Philadelphia on NFL concussion lawsuits

PHILADELPHIA - April 8, 2013

More than four thousand plaintiffs are preparing for a showdown with the NFL who they say in the past promoted violent play, but down played the risk to players.

The NFL wants the complaints tossed at the hearing because the league wants to handle the issue in arbitration instead.

Andrew Brandt from the Moorad Center for the study of Sports Law said, "This is the NFL's motion to dismiss these lawsuits against it, based on concussions."

It is expected the League will say that concussions and long term brain injury are a labor issue and should be dealt with behind closed doors as part of its collective bargaining agreement, the CBA.

The plaintiffs will argue the CBA doesn't cover everything and everybody, and this issue needs to be in court.

"In the interest of fairness, in the interest of justice, these players should be heard," added Brandt.

He told Action News that the issue should get out publicly.

Kevin Turner is a plaintiff and in the1990's he was a Philadelphia Eagle.

The once robust hard hitting fullback has ALS, a progressive neurological disease that has already robbed him of the use of his hands and has slurred his speech.

Turner believes his disease was caused by repeated concussions.

He applauds recent changes by the NFL to protect current players, but says it wants to ignore prior generations.

"Whatever happened in the past, they just want to move forward and pretend it didn't happen - but of course it did," said Turner.

The Link between repeated mild head trauma and long term brain injury in team sports is not clear cut.

Penn's Dr. Doug Smith, Director of Penn Center for Brain Injury, says at best the science is in its infancy and there are many unknowns among the most basic why some players suffer long term trouble, while others with multiple concussions do not.

"We know lots of people who have had many concussions who are captains of industry, and who are doing well out in society, but there is this other group that seems to suffer,'' said Smith.

The center is in the midst of a study of a hundred former retired NFL players. They are looking to try to develop diagnostic tools.

The brain injury issue is getting a lot of attention and on Tuesday it shifts to Federal court.

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