Former NFL Player Asks Court to Send Texas Turf Injury Suit Back to State Court

Former Texas Houston linebacker Demeco Ryans has sued his former team for over $10 million in compensation for a no-contact, career-ending injury he sustained in 2014 while playing at NRG stadium. Ryans alleges the injury was a result of the field’s poor condition, and that the Houston Texans breached their duty to provide NFL players with a safe playing surface. The lawsuit also cites numerous complaints by other NFL players re the playing surface at NRG Stadium, which effectively put NRG on notice of the poor conditions and injuries. Ryans suffered a career-ending Achilles tendon injury he contributed to the “seams” in the playing surface. His claim focused on the fact that “but for” the stadium field, there is a reasonable probability that he would have continued playing in the league for another five years.

The Texans removed Ryans’ case, arguing preemption by virtue of the CBA and Labor Management Relations Act. In response, Ryans urged the court to send the case back to state court, arguing that his claims were entirely independent of the CBA because they were based on premises liability principles —duties owed to NFL players which are not in fact created by the CBA — and that state court was the appropriate forum. In support of this argument, Ryans cited a similar suit brought by running back Reggie Bush following a knee injury that occurred from a slip and fall on a concrete surface surrounding the now LA Rams’ stadium as precedent, where a Missouri federal court concluded that Bush’s claim was not preempted by the CBA.

A former All-American at the University of Alabama and two-time NFL Pro Bowler, Ryans was drafted by the Texans in 2006, signing a $48 million, six-year contract in 2010 before he was traded to the Eagles. Following his injury in 2014, Ryans was placed on injured reserve and subsequently played in 14 games for the Eagles during 2015, but was ultimately let go in February of 2016 due to sub-par performance. Ryans went unsigned as a free agent.

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