Tuesday, January 27, 2009

New DIsability Lawsuit Against NFL Player Retirement Plan

This office has filed a lawsuit against the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle NFL Player Retirement Plan on behalf of Gaylon Hyder, a former player for the Rams and Browns. Mr. Hyder suffers from a kidney disease that has led to hypertension and congestive heart failure, rendering him disabled. So what is the link to pro football? As alleged in the Complaint, Mr. Hyder injured his knee during a Rams game against the Atlanta Falcons. To quell the pain and reduce inflammation, the team medical staff gave him Vioxx, which Mr. Hyder continued to take through the remainder of the season. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (“NSAIDs”), like Vioxx, are potentially toxic to those with kidney disease. As further alleged in the Complaint, the Rams' medical staff had the results of medical tests that suggested Mr. Hyder had some impairment to his kidney function. Mr. Hyder contends that he is eligible for disability benefits because the Vioxx treatment worsened his kidney problems and prematurely ended his career. Coverage of the lawsuit can be found here.

NFL Players and Concussions

On the eve of the Super Bowl, an article on the CNN.com website reports on recent research on brain injuries suffered by football players:
[U]sing tissue from retired NFL athletes culled posthumously, the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy (CSTE), at the Boston University School of Medicine, is shedding light on what concussions look like in the brain. The findings are stunning. Far from innocuous, invisible injuries, concussions confer tremendous brain damage.
It is known that concussions can lead to headaches, sleep disorders and depression. The physical changes to the brains of these former NFL players resemble the physical changes that might be found in the brains of elderly Alzheimer patients. The NFL and the Bert Bell/Pete Rozelle NFL Player Retirement Plan, however, have resisted the concept that repeated football related concussions can lead to depression and other symptoms which might qualify a player for disability benefits after retirement. The article can be found here.