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More ex-Kansas City Chiefs join brain injury lawsuit against team

The number of former Kansas City Chiefs players who said the team withheld information about the consequences of brain trauma suffered in professional football has grown from five to 26 in recent weeks. Former defensive lineman Neil Smith is among the retired athletes who have joined a lawsuit against the Chiefs. The players say that they are living with brain injuries due to repeated concussions and other blows to the head.

Instead of protecting their players from this danger, the lawsuit says, the team encouraged concussed players to return to action before they were healed, and failed to inform them of the risks involved with doing so. Many former players suffer from brain damage after their playing days, including conditions like chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE.

We wrote about this lawsuit in our Dec. 19 blog post. At that time, there were five ex-Chiefs who were taking part. All of them played on the team between 1987 and 1993. Since then, nearly two dozen other retired Chiefs have joined the suit.

Perhaps the most prominent player to sign on so far is Neil Smith, a defensive end who played for the Chiefs from 1988 through 1996. Other new plaintiffs include Stephone Paige, Jayice Pearson and Trent Bryant.

Among the charges in the suit is that the Chiefs did not allow players time to recover from head trauma. Instead, the team gave them “ammonia inhalants, caffeine cocktails and/or Toradol,” an anti-inflammatory, and sent them back into the game or practice. In addition, the playing field at Arrowhead stadium was made of Astroturf until 1994. The plaintiffs compare the surface with concrete in their suit.

As we previously discussed, in August the NFL settled a class action lawsuit involving more than 4,500 former players who made similar claims of chronic brain trauma. The plaintiffs in this case opted out of that settlement. A part of the Missouri workers’ compensation law allows injured workers to sue their employer if they are declined workers’ comp.

Source: KCTV-TV, “Neil Smith joins former Chiefs players in brain injury lawsuit,” Chris Oberholtz, Jan. 1, 2014

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