The mother of deceased former Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the team.
The Associated Press reports the lawsuit was filed Tuesday in Jackson County (Mo.) circuit court by Cheryl Shepherd, the mother of Jovan Belcher. The legal action came after Belcher’s body was recently exhumed at a cemetery in Bay Shore, N.Y., at his family’s request so his brain could be studied for a degenerative neurological condition called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Symptoms of CTE, which has been linked to multiple concussions, include memory problems, behavioral changes and dementia.
Shepherd’s lawsuit alleges the Chiefs failed to provide adequate medical care to Belcher before he killed his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, and then committed suicide Dec. 1, 2012. Other failures noted in the suit, which also alleges that Belcher was subjected to “repetitive head trauma,” were the Chiefs failing to warn Belcher of the short-term and long-term risks of concussions; failing to identify and remove Belcher from practice or games after sustaining head trauma; failing to educate Belcher about concussions; failing to monitor or treat Belcher for neurological dysfunction; and failing to provide appropriate counseling.
Belcher was knocked unconscious during a game against Jacksonville in 2009 but did not receive adequate treatment before returning to team activities, the lawsuit stated.
A spokesman for the Chiefs addressed Shepherd’s lawsuit Tuesday night, telling the AP that the team was aware of the lawsuit. In light of the pending litigation, he was unable to say anything more.
Shepherd’s lawsuit is the latest legal situation involving the Chiefs. The team is currently at the center of a workers’ compensation lawsuit filed on behalf of several former players. In that suit, the players claim the Chiefs hid the risks of permanent brain injuries from repeated concussions from 1987-93, when there was no NFL collective bargaining agreement in place.
Shepherd is seeking a jury trial and a judgment, the AP stated, “in excess of $15,000 for actual damages, punitive damages, and/or aggravating circumstances, for the cost of this action, and for such relief as the court deems fair and reasonable.”