News Room

NFL Players’ Brain Studies show CTE on the Rise

Written on behalf of Brian S. Kabateck
October 6, 2017

The revelation that former NFL player Aaron Hernandez, who took his own life while serving jail time, had severe CTE, sent shockwaves through the sports world. The condition known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, is a progressive disease which affects the brain of people who have suffered repeated concussions and traumatic brain injuries, such as athletes who take part in contact sports, members of the military, and others. CTE is a condition of brain damage which persists over a period of years, or decades. The brain of an individual who suffers from CTE gradually deteriorates over time. Certain areas of the brain are particularly vulnerable to damage, though other areas are prone to becoming enlarged.

Hernandez played with the New England Patriots for two years until getting tangled in legal issues. The former tight end was serving a life sentence for murder and hanged himself in his jail cell in April 2017. Hernandez’s brain was donated to Boston University, which is where it was examined and was then determined that he suffered from CTE. The disease is categorized in stages, stage 4 being the most severe. According to the analysis, it was found that Hernandez suffered from stage 3 CTE, which can cause memory loss, impaired judgment and behavioral problems. Hernandez’s attorney claims he will be suing the NFL on behalf of Hernandez’s 4 year-old daughter. According to the Associated Press, the lawsuit claims that the Patriots and the NFL deprived his daughter of her father’s companionship. It’s unknown whether Hernandez’s family can receive money from the $1 billion settlement the NFL has agreed to pay former players and their families who suffered brain damage while playing football.

CTE was found in 99% of deceased NFL players’ brains that were donated to scientific research. This brain disease can be found in individuals who have been exposed to repeated head trauma, and symptoms can range from memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, aggression, depression, anxiety, impulse control issues and can sometimes lead to suicidal behavior. Currently, the only way CTE can be diagnosed is after an autopsy has been performed. Out of 202 deceased former football players, a combination of high school, college and professional players, CTE was diagnosed in 177. The disease was identified in 110 out of 111 former NFL players. It was also found in three of the 14 high school players and 48 of the 53 college players.

In 2015, a federal judge approved a class action lawsuit settlement between the NFL and thousands of former players who accused the league of hiding the dangers of concussions and repeated head trauma. The agreement provides up to $5 million per retired player for serious medical conditions associated with repeated head trauma. While the lawsuit was a combination of hundreds of actions brought by more than 5,000 ex-NFL players, the settlement applies to all players who retired on or before July 7, 2014. This settlement would also allow retired NFL players to undergo neurological examinations to further investigate their health.

A consumer class action is a lawsuit in state or federal court that is brought by one individual, or a few individuals, on behalf of a larger class of people similarly situated.
Typically it seeks damages on behalf of the named persons bringing the suit as well as the members of the “class.” Class action claims can involve mass disasters, consumer product defects and failure, or even violations of state consumer protection laws.
The purpose for class actions is to combine the smaller-dollar claims of a large number of people in order to pursue the claims cost-effectively and improve the chances for success against large corporations.

The attorneys at Kabateck LLP have honed the firm’s specialized skills in handling class action litigation for several decades. Whether the suit is for a inoperative medical device, a deceptively designed printer cartridge, or an improper accounting at the bank, our attorneys have successfully represented thousands of clients in class action or similar representative actions.