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The Grid Iron Begins with a New Brain Injury Lawsuit

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Los Angeles, CAAs the professional and college and high school football seasons are in full swing for the fall, brain injury is again top of mind related to both the physical demands of the sport, together with the need to properly protect from concussions and to respond appropriately when one occurs. To that end, the widow of a former pro football player who took his own life last year has filed a brain injury lawsuit against a number of defendants.

Plaintiff Chelsea Oliver, with the help of her brain injury lawyer, filed the lawsuit Tuesday (9/23/14) in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Los Angeles, Central District.

According to court documents, Chelsea Oliver and her children were witnesses to the tragic suicide of Paul Oliver, who shot himself in the head at home in front of his family in 2013. The former pro football player for the San Diego Chargers and the New Orleans Saints had been suffering from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) as well as other examples of traumatic brain injury at the time of his death - although the brain trauma particulars were not known to Oliver or his family at the time.

The diagnosis of brain trauma came after he died.

“At the time of his death, decedent Paul Oliver was suffering from then, still undiagnosed, severe and debilitating brain injuries including Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy as a result of the repetitive head trauma and concussions he suffered while playing professional football for the San Diego Chargers and the New Orleans Saints from 2007 through the 2011-2012 season,” the 88-page complaint said.

“From his first snap of youth football until his tragic death, Paul Oliver’s decision-making regarding football was materially impacted, to his detriment, by defendants’ misconduct,” the complaint said. “Since its inception, the [National Football League] has gone outside of any labor agreement to gratuitously and voluntarily control and regulate every aspect of the football community at large, particularly with respect to safety and health.”

A concussion is a brain injury that occurs when the head impacts a stationary object and the brain is bounced around inside the skull. While a serious injury - that can also foster brain swelling - a concussion can be successfully treated and the patient returned to normal activity through the observance of proper treatment protocols. This includes the capacity for removing the patient from play at the first sign of injury and commencing treatment immediately.

Many a TBI lawyer has claimed, on behalf of his or her clients, that a long-standing culture amongst players in the NFL was to grunt an injury out and get back on the field at the first available opportunity - often mere minutes after sustaining a probable concussion.

Various plaintiffs have claimed the NFL has done little to counteract this culture.

The National Football League is named as a defendant in the brain injury law action. Also named are Easton-Bell Sports Inc., Fenway Partners LLC, Riddell Inc., Chargers Football Co. LLC and New Orleans Louisiana Saints LLC, amongst other defendants.

The case is Chelsea Oliver et al. v. National Football League et al., Case No. BC-558410, in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Los Angeles - Central District.


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