In August, the NFL reached a tentative $765 million deal to settle lawsuits filed by more than 4,500 former players who developed dementia or other concussion-related health problems they say were caused by football. The settlement, subject to approval by a federal judge in Philadelphia, would apply to all past NFL players and spouses of those who are deceased.
McClain called the national settlement — which does not include an admission from the NFL that it hid information from players about head injuries — insignificant and said it provides compensation only to the former players with the most severe brain injuries.
Rather than protecting players who sustained concussions, the lawsuit said, the Chiefs increased their risks by giving them “ammonia inhalants, caffeine cocktails and/or Toradol to abbreviate the need for concussed employees to miss working time due to a brain injury.” Toradol is an injectable, anti-inflammatory drug used short term to treat moderate to severe pain.
Players were even more prone to head injuries because of the concrete-like AstroTurf surface that was in place until 1994, the lawsuit said.
That surface made the players faster and was cheaper than maintaining a grass field, the plaintiffs said. Because of the heightened violence of high-speed hits, the suit says, the game became more attractive to fans and increased the team’s revenue.
Missouri presented a “unique opportunity” to file the lawsuit because a state workers’ compensation statute was amended in 2005 to exclude cases of occupational injury that occur over an extended time.
That exception more commonly applies in workplaces where smoking is allowed and workers suffer lung problems because of it. McClain also represented workers at a Jasper popcorn plant who were awarded millions of dollars in lawsuits. They contended they got cancer because of a chemical in butter flavoring used at the plant.
Former Chiefs players Leonard Griffin, Chris Martin, Joe Phillips, Alexander Louis Cooper and Kevin Porter were the initial plaintiffs in the suit.