More than 80 individual concussion-related lawsuits have been filed in federal court by over 2000 former NFL players, and on June 7, 2012, attorneys for the former NFL players consolidated the lawsuits to form a Master Complaint, which makes up the largest sports lawsuit ever filed.
Like the individual complaints, the Master Complaint alleges that the NFL hid information that linked football-related head trauma to permanent brain damage and other injuries. The cases have been consolidated for pre-trial issues and discovery before Senior U.S. District Judge Anita B. Brody in Philadelphia.
Not surprisingly, the NFL denied the allegations in the Master Complaint, and it has claimed that the NFL has long made player safety a priority. However, the NFL’s claims are in stark contrast with its only recent efforts to re-evaluate the way that concussed players are assessed before they are ordered to return to play. “It took decades for the NFL to admit that there was a problem and 16 years (1994 – 2010) to admit that its information was false and inaccurate,” says the Master Complaint.
Mary Ann Easterling, widow of former Atlanta Falcons safety Roy Easterling, sat down with the Associated Press to discuss what the Master Complaint means to her. She hopes that it will encourage the NFL to do something to help former NFL players get treatment for their brain injuries. Mrs. Easterling will remain a Plaintiff in the NFL concussion lawsuit despite the fact that her husband suffered a recent suicide. According to Mrs. Easterling, Roy Easterling, 62 at the time of his death, suffered from undiagnosed dementia for many years that left him angry and volatile. “I wish I could sit down with (NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell) and share with him the pain. It’s not just the spouses, it’s the kids, too,” Mrs. Easterling told the Associated Press from her home in Richmond, Virginia.
Roy Easterling’s widow is not the only person to speak out about the consolidated Master Complaint. Kevin Turner, a former fullback for the Philadelphia Eagles spoke out on ABC’s Good Morning America. He said that he believes the NFL probably knew something about the long-term effects of concussion-related injuries.