Although it may seem like the NFL is always involved in concussion litigation, another football organization — Arena Football League — is facing accusations over its own concussion procedures. In June 2015, Lorenzo Breland, who played for the Tulsa Talons and the New Orleans Voodoo during his time with the league, sued the AFL after suffering from two concussions. Breland suffered his first blow to the head in 2011. Then in 2014, he suffered a second concussion that ended his football career.
Breland sued Arena for breaching its collective bargaining agreement by refusing to pay the medical expenses associated with his concussions. He also asserts claims for negligence and compensation for the long-term effects he suffers as a result of the concussions. Breland later added Arena’s insurers — Federal Insurance Company and National Casualty Company — to the lawsuit alleging that the insurance policies issued to Arena should provide coverage for his injuries. Both Federal and National Casualty moved to dismiss the action against them on the grounds that their policies don’t cover the claims alleged by Breland.
Federal issued two policies to Arena – a commercial general liability policy and a directors and officers liability policy. Federal argued the general liability policy didn’t cover the time period in which Breland was injured, and Breland agreed. However, the directors and officers policy is what ultimately lead to Federal’s release in the case. While Breland argued the directors and officers policy covered “wrongful acts” committed by Arena, such as not having legitimate concussion procedures, not paying medical expenses associated with concussions, and failing to acknowledge concussion studies performed by other leagues, Federal contended that this policy excluded coverage for bodily injury claims. A Louisiana judge agreed with Federal and granted Federal’s motion to dismiss. In ruling that Federal didn’t have to defend Arena, the court concluded that Breland’s claim is clearly a bodily injury claim and is not covered by the directors and officers policy issued by Federal.
National’s position in the case was very similar to Federal’s winning arguments; however, its situation became a little more complex when Arena also filed a claim against National for coverage under its commercial general liability policy. Although National claims it doesn’t have to defend Arena because its policy doesn’t cover Breland’s claims, National’s motion has yet to be decided. If the court rules the same as it did in Federal’s motion to dismiss, National could also be released from Breland’s action — leaving Arena to defend its concussion protocols.