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Former Dolphins key in new concussion suit vs. NFL


Former Dolphins tight end Jed Weaver contends he suffered multiple concussions during his playing days. They went untreated, he says. He was never warned of the dangers of returning to work to quickly after those concussions, he says. And as a result today he says he suffers from depression, anxiety, daily headaches, extreme irritability, dizziness, and difficulty concentrating.

Former Dolphins receiver Oronde Gadsden also contends he also dealt with multiple concussions during his playing days. He contends he was returned to the field before it was medically suitable. He contends he also was never warned of the risk of returning to play too early by Dolphins doctors. And he also contends today suffers from, among other things, headaches, memory loss, and difficulty concentrating.

Same story with Patrick Surtain. He suffered concussions playing for the Dolphins. Was never warned. Was never educated on the long-term risks of getting back on the field too quickly. He says he suffers from memory loss.

The three former Dolphins are among six former Dolphins and a former University of Miami player -- Leon Searcy -- who on Friday joined to sue the NFL in Miami Federal Court over what they contend was a "long-time coverup of concussion related risks."






An NFL spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

Similar lawsuits have been filed on behalf of players and against the NFL in California and Pennsylvannia.

Filed by Ricardo Martinez-Cid, Stephen Rosenthal, and Ray Rasco of the Miami-based firm Podhurst Orseck, the lawsuit alleges that NFL officials, including the League’s medical experts, were aware of these risks and deliberately ignored and concealed them.

This is the largest lawsuit of its kind filed in the United States to date and the first to be filed in Florida. The suit was brought in federal court in Miami and names 21 former NFL players as plaintiffs, including: Marvin Jones, Leon Searcy, Patrick Surtain, Oronde Gadsden, Daryl Porter, Lamar Thomas, Troy Drayton, and Sean Hill, among others.  According to the complaint, “the NFL has known for decades that multiple blows to the head can lead to long-term brain injury, including memory loss, dementia, depression, and chronic traumatic encephalopathy [a progressive degenerative disease] and its related symptoms.”

Rather than take immediate measures to protect its players from these known dangers, the suit contends, the NFL instead formed a committee to study the issue in 1994. The suit calls this committee a "sham." This committee, the Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee (MTBI), which the NFL claimed to be comprised of an independent panel of experts, actually consisted of five members already affiliated with the organization, the suit contends.  The suit further contends the NFL failed to appoint any medical professionals with expertise in neurology and instead appointed Dr. Elliot Pellman to head the panel – a rheumatologist with no formal training related to concussions and who had previously been fired by Major League Baseball.

The complaint also alleges that the MTBI Committee did not publish its first findings on the risks of concussion-related injuries until 2003, nearly 10 years after its inception. These findings claimed that contrary to years of independent findings, there were no long-term negative consequences associated with sustaining concussions.

As such, the complaint continues, NFL teams, including the Dolphins, continued the practice of allowing players to continue playing football during the same game in which a concussion was suffered.

"The NFL is a nine billion dollar per-year enterprise,” said Ricardo Martinez-Cid, attorney for the plaintiffs and partner at Miami-based law firm Podhurst Orseck. “They knew for decades that repeated blows to the head would lead to serious life-threatening and chronic injuries, yet they intentionally turned a blind eye and led players to believe they were okay to keep playing because they didn’t want to risk losing money in their coffers."