Former NFL Players Time Barred in Painkillers Suit

On February 6, 2019, the Ninth Circuit ruled that a group of former NFL player’s claim against the NFL was time barred. As we previously reported, back in May 201, lead plaintiff, Etopia Evans, widow of the late Minnesota Vikings and Baltimore Ravens player Charles “Chuck” Evans, and six other former NFL players sued the NFL claiming that the league illegally dispensed painkillers and pushed athletes to return to the field, ending their careers early. Back in 2008, Chuck Evans died a jail cell, two days after being imprisoned for failing to pay child support. According to Etopia Evans, Chuck Evans was unable to pay child support because of his addiction to painkillers, which he became addicted to while playing in the NFL.

According to the memorandum, the former players argued that their claims were not time barred because their claim did not start to accrue until they allegedly first learned of the league’s fraudulent scheme. However, the Ninth Circuit panel disagreed. According to the panel, “we have been at pains to explain that a discovery of the injury, not discovery of the other elements of a claim, is what starts the clock.” Thus, while the players may not have fully understood what the NFL was doing at the time, they were well aware of their alleged injuries, namely their retirement from professional football.

The former players appeal seemed doomed from the start. In December 2018, the Ninth Circuit panel expressed doubts about the players appeal. For example, U.S. Circuit Judge Consuelo Callahan probed the former player’s lawyer about why the players only became aware of the teams wrongful actions in 2014. Judge N. Randy Smith also questioned whether the players actually knew what was happening to them at the time. Judge Smith said, “[f]rankly I don’t think you have a fraudulent concealment unless there are some allegations about the diligence in the attempt to uncover the scheme.”

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