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New Lawsuit against NFL Alleges Drugs Used to Cover Neck Injuries

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San Francisco, CAMany people are now familiar with the NFL brain injury lawsuit, where former players allege they were not warned about the risks associated with repeated brain injuries. A new lawsuit filed against the league alleges players were illegally given drugs and painkillers to hide serious problems such as neck injuries. Athletes are at a higher risk of some injuries, especially those in contact sports, but the former NFL players in the new lawsuit allege they were encouraged to play after suffering neck injuries and leg injuries, but were not told about the nature of the damage.

According to the Los Angeles Times (5/21/14), former NFL players allege the league illegally gave them painkillers and prescription drugs to hide their injuries, in some cases, not telling players that they were suffering serious injuries. The lawsuit, filed in US District Court in San Francisco (case number 3:14-cv-02324-KAW), accuses the NFL of intentionally maintaining a culture of drug misuse in an attempt to protect profits.

There are eight players so far named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit, with another 500 reportedly part of the class represented by the suit. Players claimed they would be given doses of Toradol, Vicodin and/or Ambien.

The lawsuit also points out that because the season is now longer, the off-season shorter and that there is now shorter recovery time between games (with more Thursday night games being played), players are exposed to “more frequent and debilitating injuries.” According to the lawsuit, 68 percent of players who reported playing while hurt said they did not feel they had a choice about whether or not to play.

Players reportedly suffered serious long-term damage from taking medications, including renal failure, high blood pressure, atrial fibrillation and nerve damage. They say that their team doctors never told them about the risks.

One player, Jim McMahon, alleges that he only learned in 2011 that he had suffered a broken neck at some point in his career, likely from a hit in the 1993 post-season. McMahon says he was given medications and put back on the field without ever being told about his broken neck.

Lawyers have separated this lawsuit from the brain injury lawsuit, saying this recent lawsuit is concerned about the harm done to the players from taking painkillers and anti-inflammatory medications to mask injuries. They are also concerned about reported addiction problems in some former players, addiction referred to in court documents as “NFL-sponsored drug addiction.”

The lawsuit seeks financial compensation for long-term injuries, financial losses, expenses, and pain and suffering. It also seeks medical monitoring.


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