One of my traumatic brain injury colleagues in New York, attorney Michael Kaplen, called the National Football League to task for merely paying “lip service” to concerns about the long-term damage of concussions.
In a letter published July 31 by The New York Times, Kaplen cited a July 26 story that I blogged about, “NFL Asserts Greater Risk of Head Injury.” That was a story about the NFL getting to put up locker room signs warning players about the effects of concussions, one of the league’s first major admissions of the link between injuries on the field and dementia in later years.
Kaplen, chairman of the New York State Traumatic Brain Injury Services Coordinating Council, thinks the NFL is being “disengenous” by, on the one hand drafting the new warning poster, but still refusing to grant full disability to retired players who now have early-onset dementia, memory loss and cognitive problems.
“The continuous refusal by the lawyers retained by the N.F.L. to accept the association between long-term disability and concussions exemplifies their disingenuous position when confronting the issue of brain damage,” Kaplen wrote to The Times’s sports editor. “It is implausible that these lawyers are acting without the full knowledge and approval of their client.”
Here is the rest of Kaplen’s letter:
“The league is now doing a better job of paying lip service to acknowledging the long-term disability associated with concussions. But it remains steadfast in its refusal to fulfill its fiduciary obligations under the disability retirement plan and adequately compensate those players who have sacrificed their brains and lives while the league owners have continued to reap the financial benefits.
It would be interesting to know what initiatives the league was undertaking to review the disability files of all those players who have been wrongfully denied brain-injury-associated disability payments, with their purported better understanding of traumatic brain injury.
It may be that the only way to obtain justice for these players is to require a truly independent review of these files or surrender the cloak of immunity behind which the league hides and consent to a full and fair court hearing.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself, Michael.
Attorney Gordon Johnson
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice
email@example.com :: 800-992-9447 :: Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.