Earlier this month, 12 former NFL players who played in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s instituted a class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of New Jersey, contending that the league failed to inform players of the risks and side effects of the pain killer (and blood thinner) Toradol. Ex-players including Joe Horn, Matt Joyce and Scott Dragos would be given injections of Toradol to numb the pain from injuries suffered during games in order to get them back on the field quickly. The suit indicates that Toradol would mask traumatic brain injuries with long term effects, including concussions, which have led these ex-players to suffer from numerous health problems since their retirement from the league.
When a player suffers a “stinger”, (Concussion in NFL lingo), trainers often conduct a cursory examination including a quick memory test, check of reflexes and coordination, and examine pupil size. If this short examination appears normal, the player is cleared to return to action.
The side effects of a concussion, which is a traumatic brain injury caused by various types of collisions, include:
An altered state of consciousness, such as drowsiness;
Confusion and loss of concentration;
Severe headaches of long term or short term variety;
Nausea and vomiting;
Changes in alertness;
Muscle weakness on one or both sides of the body;
Difficulty walking and with balance and coordination.
Nate Jackson, one of the plaintiffs, described in an editorial in the New York Times that when he played for the Denver Broncos, Toradol was often administered to the players prior to a game. The evening before game day, a line of 10-20 players formed to receive their injections. They were told that other than a small risk of internal bleeding, Toradol was safe. It is easy to visualize Jackson’s description of the pressure that he felt from team personnel, including trainers and doctors, to get back on the field as soon as possible or risk being replaced by “spare parts”, as Jackson referred to them. Jackson’s description is compelling: “There was no hesitation, no trepidation, no point at which I felt that taking Toradol was a risk. I trusted our team doctors…they wouldn’t suggest a drug if it was dangerous.”
In the lawsuit, the players accuse the NFL of negligence, fraud, fraudulent concealment, misrepresentation and conspiracy. The 2nd, 3rd and 4th of these charges care essentially the same: that the NFL knew of the specific risks of Toradol, yet chose to not divulge these risks to the players to benefit teams by doing whatever was necessary to keep players off of the disabled list.
The NFL denies that it deceived players and argues that they now make safety a priority, with severe penalties and suspensions for helmet to helmet collisions, for example. Presently, there are numerous lawsuits against the NFL after two dozen players have died from the effects of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which is a condition caused by multiple blows to the brain (it used to be known as dementia pugilistica as many boxers suffered from the condition). With CTE, a substance known as “tau” forms on the brain and interferes with cognitive functioning. Former star safety Dave Duerson of the Super Bowl champion Bears and New York Giants was so convinced that he was suffering from CTE that in committing suicide, he purposely shot himself in the chest and requested that the coroner examine his unharmed brain, which examination confirmed the CTE diagnosis.
One of the main reasons that these former players have commenced the Toradol lawsuit, and the other lawsuits claiming undiagnosed CTE, is that the NFL’s health insurance does not cover collision related injuries, so that the ex-players are now left with serious medical problems compounded by major financial difficulties when they have significant medical expenses and can no longer work. Hopefully, this problem will be addressed by the NFL in the near future, as players are faster and bigger than ever and the collisions are likely to lead to an increase in the CTE diagnosis in the future.
If you have suffered a traumatic brain injury, been injured in any type of accident, are the victim of medical malpractice, or suffered injury from a defective product or dangerous medication, contact the Westchester County Brain Injury Lawyers online or toll free at 888-761-7633 for a free initial consultation with an experienced, aggressive litigator dedicated to maximizing your compensation for your injuries, lost earnings, past, present and future, medical expenses and loss of enjoyment of life.