NFL Moves to Dismiss Concussion Litigation for Violation of CBA Terms
On August 30, 2012, the NFL and Riddell Inc. filed a motion to dismiss the multi-district concussion litigation against them, arguing that the suit is preempted by the collective bargaining agreements which exist between the league and the players. The concussion litigation accuses the league of deliberately and fraudulently concealing/ignoring the risk of multiple head concussion incurred during professional football, causing many former players to experience degenerative mental disorders and cognitive decline.
According to separate briefs filed by both parties, the Labor Management Relations Act preempts state claims linked to a collective bargaining agreement, making those claims disputable only through arbitration (i.e. through the grievance procedures outlined in the CBAs), not litigation. Two recent federal court rulings – one in California and another inIllinois– were cited in support of the proposition that these concussion-related suits involved player health and safety provisions in the NFL CBAs. The NFL stated, “[f]or example, plaintiffs take issue with the NFL’s failure to enact rules that would prevent players suffering a concussion from returning to play ruin the same game or practice. The CBAs, however, establish the duties of the NFL and its clubs to provide medical care to NFL players.”
The league’s motion to dismiss also sought to throw out charges brought against NFL Properties LLC, the league’s merchandising unit, noting that no substantive allegations against NFL Properties LLC actually exist.
Several other defendants to the suit – including Riddell, Easton-Bell Sports Inc., and all American Sports Corp. – filed a motion to sever themselves from the underlying Eastern District of Pennsylvania suit, asserting that the numerous claims against each of the defendants were too factually diverse to be litigated in one action.