By James Roan – I have been following a new cottage area industry dealing with suicide wrongful death. In particular, California lawyers seem to be at the cutting edge of this type of tort claim (Read More.) Interestingly enough, football players seem to be at the forefront of these new types of injury claims. Recently since it was revealed that the NFL had been covering up the real risks of brain injury to the players. The facts related that the NFL had overstated the value of the protective gear and risks of brain injuries. Even when wearing protection, player have been suffering TBI, and MTBI for years. A steady stream of indicators has revealed that at least some of the suicides by depressed and neurologically damaged players, is a result of their head injuries.
This brings me to this most recent case in Kansas. The family of deceased Kansas City Chiefs linebacker, Jovan Belcher, believes they may have answers involving the murder of his 22 year old girlfriend and his subsequent suicide at his football team’s training facility. People Magazine did a great report on this. The facts relate that a year after the violent incident, the autopsy of the former NFL linebacker, showed signs of degenerative brain disease, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). This information comes from a report by dean of research professor of pathology at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine Dr. Piotr Kozlowski located in New York City (Source.)
In the report Dr. Kozlowski stated he detected neurofibirllary tangles of tau protein. This is linked with CTE. The doctor stated the tangles were distributed throughout the brain of the linebacker’s hippocampus area of the brain, which involves learning, emotions and memory. Experts studying CTE have found it is a progressive death of brain cells that occurs after blows to the head resulting in depression, memory loss and dementia.
Attorneys representing Belcher’s infant daughter Zoey requested the linebacker’s brain be autopsied. Belcher age 25, who committed suicide in front of the Chief’s team coaches December 1, 2012 at the training facility after killing his girlfriend Kasandra Perkins in their home, while his mother was caring for his 3 month old daughter in the home. The results of the autopsy may be used in the ongoing litigation against the Chiefs and the NFL of player brain injuries. CTE was found in the autopsies of both Junior Seau and Dave Duerson, since it can only be found post-mortem and has been found in approximately 50 other former NFL players.
Belcher’s attorneys decided to make the findings of the autopsy public Monday due to the amount of domestic abuse cases involving NFL players.
A lawsuit against the Kansas City Chief’s has been filed on behalf of Belcher’s daughter Zoey and his mother, Cheryl Shepard have been filed alleging the team failed in properly treating the linebacker for repetitive head trauma and did not provide adequate medical care.
Belcher’s mother and daughters lawsuits follow the over 30 other plaintiffs with suits involving the NFL in Federal Court waiting for the approval of a $765 million dollar class action settlement.
Five NFL players during the past month have been allegedly involved in domestic violence according to attorney Dirk Vandever representing head injury lawsuits against the Chiefs. Jonathan Dwyer Arizona Cardinals running back has been accused of domestic abuse involving a 27 year old unidentified victim and deactivated from all team activities. The 25 year old Dwyer has denied the assault.
There have been incidences on and off the field for NFL players recently, with one of the situations resulting in the indefinite ban of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice. Rice was seen in a video that went viral in an Atlantic City Casino elevator of him attacking his wife Janay. Carolina Panther’s defensive end Greg Hardy has been accused of domestic violence and convicted of assault on a female. I can foresee a situation where the rape victim sues the NFL if it is proven that Hardy had been injured due to concealment and active misrepresentation, and that caused the rape, can’t you?
He has been banned from playing in any more games while the appeal is ruled on by the court. Another incident involved child abuse charges for Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson when he was indicted for beating his 4 year old son with a switch. Peterson was put on the NFL’s exempt commissioner’s list. According to a statement by the NFL they have been making changes to make it safer for players on the field and providing the best medical care. They have updated the protocols on diagnosis of concussions and treatment as well as players returning to the game after having a concussion. What we are beginning to learn, is that repeated jolts to the brain can cause severe psychological problems.
From my perspective, if Belcher had CTE, this could open up a whole slew of lawsuits as against the NFL, by multiple parties, including victims of murder suicides. As more facts come out about the alleged cover up by the NFL of the severity and risks of repeated blows to the brain to players, more and more parties of these types of cases may be adding the NFL as a party to their wrongful death lawsuits.