NEW ORLEANS -- Nearly a dozen former NFL players living in Louisiana have sued the NFL, the latest players to accuse the league of failing to protect players from the risks associated with concussions.
Several former New Orleans Saints players, including John Fourcade, are among the 11 ex-players named as plaintiffs in the class-action lawsuit filed Friday in federal court in New Orleans. The lawsuit says each of them has developed mental or physical problems from concussions or concussion-like symptoms.
Several similar suits blaming the NFL for concussion-related dementia and brain disease already have been consolidated in Philadelphia. James Dugan, a lawyer for the former players from Louisiana, said he expects the case to be transferred to Philadelphia within a month.
The NFL has vowed to vigorously defend itself against the suits.
Football helmet manufacturer Riddell Inc. also is named as a defendant in the lawsuit filed in New Orleans.
The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages, accuses the NFL of ignoring players' concussion risks for years "despite overwhelming medical evidence that on-field concussions led directly to brain injuries and frequently had tragic repercussions for retired players."
"Wanting their players on the field instead of training tables, and in an attempt to protect a multibillion dollar business, the NFL has purposefully attempted to obfuscate the issue and has repeatedly refuted the connection between concussions and brain injury to the disgust of Congress, which has blasted the NFL's handling of the issue on multiple occasions," the lawsuit says.
A 2000 survey of more than 1,000 former NFL players found that more than 60 percent had suffered at least one concussion, while 26 percent had suffered three or more during their careers, according to the lawsuit.
"Those who had sustained concussions reported more problems with memory, concentration, speech impediments, headaches and other neurological problems than those who had not been concussed," the suit says.
The lawsuit claims the league has only recently taken action to address the problem.
The other plaintiffs are: Tyrone Hughes, Eric Hill, Curtis Baham, Raion Hill, Maurice Hurst, Treverance Faulk, Keaton Cromartie, Vince Buck, Charles Commiskey and Tyrone Legette. Wives of the players also are named as plaintiffs in the suit.
Fourcade, 51, was a quarterback for the Saints from 1987 to 1990 and played at Mississippi.
Dugan said he represents a total of roughly 30 former NFL players and plans to soon file other lawsuits on their behalf. He declined to name his other clients.
"All of these players are seeking protections for themselves and their families," he said.