Federal Judge Refuses Chiefs Players’ Request
On December 3, 2013, a group of five former Kansas City Chiefs football players filed a workers’ compensation lawsuit against the Chiefs. The uniqueness about this lawsuit stems from the fact that this is one of the first cases suing a specific National Football League. The case parallels many claims made in the suit brought against the NFL; however, it questions “whether concussion-related cases should be heard by an arbitrator under the auspices of the league’s collective bargaining agreement.” These players chose to sue only the Chiefs because under Missouri law if an employee is ineligible for workers’ compensation, he or she is still able to sue his former employers.
The lawsuit was further legitimized when the Chiefs Hall of Fame Members Art Still and Albert Lewis joined as named plaintiffs. According to the players’ attorney, “they’re not some malcontents or people unhappy with the KC Chiefs and their careers,” McClain said. “They’ve been injured and should be taken care of. These are all players who had great loyalty to Chiefs and gave their lives to the team and are now suffering the consequences with no hope of compensation. It’s a widespread problem and these players have a right to be compensated.” The case was added to the multidistrict litigation concussion NFL lawsuit.
The plaintiffs made a motion in January 2016 to separate their claims from the multidistrict litigation, and send the claims back to Missouri. The players argue they only named the Chiefs as a defendant and they are former employees, therefore the claims should be under Missouri law. As the motion states, the claims are based “solely in the unique substantive rights granted them under Missouri state law.”
On July 13, 2016, a Pennsylvania federal court denied the motion to remand to Missouri state court and to sever the case from the multidistrict litigation against the NFL.