Thursday, August 30, 2012

Former MLS player sues league for $12 million over head injury

It looks like there may be another front on the battle around Concussions. 

Those of us who follow sports have heard the counter argument that Soccer was as bad as a American Football in terms of concussions due to headers and the un-mitigated collisions.  It looks like the battle the NFL is facing in the courts is just the tip of the iceberg.

Former D.C. United player Bryan Namoff, who had to retire from the Major League Soccer (MLS) club three years ago due to concussion problems, filed a $12 million lawsuit against the team and former head coach Tom Soehn on Aug. 29. Namoff claimed that Soehn and the club didn’t evaluate his injury properly and he was sent back into action too soon.

The claim said the soccer club was negligent in its treatment and care of the player after he suffered a head injury in a match in September of 2009 at RFK Stadium. Namoff played again three days after the injury and it turned out to be the last game of his nine-year professional soccer career. The 33-year-old Namoff claims that he suffers sensory and memory loss as well as brain damage because of the injury. He added that he has problems sleeping, is often fatigued, and suffers from permanent headaches.

The player’s wife Nadine was listed as a co-plaintiff. The couple is looking for a total of $10 million for the club’s medical negligence as well as another $2 million which is for the impact the injury has had on their marriage. It was claimed that Namoff hasn’t worked for the past two years and his medical expenses are still piling up. Doug Hicks, a spokesperson for D.C. United, said the club won’t comment on any pending legal issues.

Reports said that Namoff’s lawyers will name several other people in the lawsuit in the next 90 days, including the team’s former doctor and its current athletic trainer. Namoff’s case isn’t unique as over 3,000 ex-NFL players have filed a lawsuit suit against the NFL. The players claim that the league concealed information regarding the long-term effects of concussions from the players for decades.

Ex-Chicago Bears player Merril Hoge won a $1.55 million settlement from a jury in 2000 against a former team doctor. He claimed that he suffered a serious injury after he received improper care for a concussion. Also, a former Arena Football League player named Clay Rush, came to an agreement with a hospital chain in Denver after Rush was cleared to play even though he sustained two concussions in the space of 15 days.
There have been several MLS players who have retired due to concussions. Three of them were teammates of Namoff at D.C. United: Devon McTavish, Alecko Eskandarian, and Josh Gros. Namoff admitted that he suffered a concussion while he was in high school as well as one in college, but had never had a head injury in MLS until the incident in 2009. Namoff wasn’t a fringe player as he had the third-most seniority in franchise history wand is also third on the team’s all-time games played list.

The injury occurred in a match with Kansas City when Namoff attempted to head the ball. An opponent crashed into him and hit him in the head with his shoulder. Namoff stayed in the game, but complained of vision problems after it. The lawsuit claims that Namoff was told he had a concussion. He didn’t practice for the next three days, but played in the club’s next game. After the match Namoff said he had post-concussive symptoms such as dizziness, and double vision and the team’s medical staff said they’d keep an eye on him.
The symptoms became worse during the next few months, but Namoff hoped to play in the 2010 season.

However, the problems remained and in he took a front office job with the team after retiring as a player.
It’ll be interesting to see if any other former MLS players now follow Namoff’s lead and file lawsuits against the league.
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