Source: USA TODAY
Five former members of the Kansas City Chiefs filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the NFL team, but not the league, for damages as a result of head injuries suffered while playing.
Alexander Cooper, Leonard Griffin, Christopher Martin, Joseph Phillips and Kevin Porter were members of the Chiefs in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
The lawsuit claims each player is suffering from “post-concussion syndrome and latent brain disease” and has displayed symptoms of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a brain disease linked to concussions that can only be discovered in autopsies.
In August, the NFL agreed to a $765 million settlement in concussion-related lawsuits filed by more than 4,500 former players. The five former Chiefs were not members of that suit.
The latest suit filed is the first against an NFL team.
Chiefs vice president of communications Ted Crews said the team was aware of the suit but had no comment.
The lawsuit doesn’t claim that the Chiefs acted different than other teams. Instead, it is based on two reasons:
The lawsuit cites the period between 1987 and 1993 when the NFL had no collective bargaining agreement with the NFL Players Association. The CBA had been viewed in the suits filed against the NFL as a potential stumbling block for the players because issues of health and safety were covered in it.
In addition, there is a clause in Missouri’s workman’s compensation law that is set to expire at the end of the year that allows employees, or players, to sue employers if the employees declined workman’s compensation. The statute only exists in Missouri.
“I believe this is a way to say to an individual team within the NFL, ‘What did you know, when did you know and what did you do about it?” Dirk Vandever, one of the plaintiffs’ lead attorneys, told The Kansas City Star.
The suit claims the Chiefs were aware of the dangers of head trauma and failed to disclose it to the players. “Defendant has known or should have known for many years that post-concussion syndrome and cognitive impairment occurs in football players,” the suit says.
The suit seeks actual damages, punitive damages and court costs on counts of negligence, negligent misrepresentation and fraudulent concealment.
Porter, 47, from the Bronx, was a third-round draft choice of the Chiefs in 1988 out of Auburn. Over parts of five seasons, from 1988 to 1992, he played 78 games (52 starts). He had one interception, three fumble recoveries and 1.5 sacks
Phillips, 50, from Portland, Ore., was a fourth-round draft choice of the Vikings in 1986 out of SMU. He played for the Minnesota Vikings in 1986, for the San Diego Chargers from 1987 to 1991 and for the Chiefs from 1992 to 1999. In 200 career games (152 starts), he had one interception, six fumble recoveries, 53 tackles in 1986 as a career high and 24.5 career sacks.
Martin, who turns 53 this month, is from Huntsville, Ala., and was signed out of Auburn by the New Orleans Saints in 1983, and played that season for them. He played for the Vikings from 1984 to 1988, for the Chiefs from 1988 to 1992 and for the Los Angeles Rams from 1993 to 1994. In 178 career games (90 starts), he had one interception, 13 fumble recoveries and a career-high 103 tackles in 1991 for the Chiefs, and 20.5 career sacks.
Cooper, 50, from Marion, S.C., was an 11th-round draft choice of the Seattle Seahawks in 1985, but did not play for them. He played for the Chiefs from 1985 to 1990, for the Miami Dolphins in 1991 and for the Philadelphia Eagles in 1992. In 102 games (23 starts), he had one interception, two fumble recoveries and 7.5 sacks.
Griffin, 51, from Lake Providence, La., was a third-round draft choice of the Chiefs in 1986. He played only for them, from 1986 to 1993, with 103 career games (37 starts), recording one fumble recovery and 16.5 career sacks.