Epstein on Retired NFL Players' Head Trauma Suit

Can Recent NFL Retirees Score Big in Head Trauma Suits?
Richard A. Epstein
June 11, 2012

The recent story about the large number of famous NFL players who are now suing the NFL for their head injuries has to stir up conflicting emotions in any neutral observer. Unlike many law suits of this sort, I doubt that there are many outsiders who would dismiss these claims on the simplest and most powerful of grounds: there is no injury worthy of compensation. Football is a tough, sometimes brutal, game. And injuries can come with frightful suddenness, as when Jack Tatum hit Darryl Stingley.  Alternatively, the full fury of some injuries is only revealed long after retirement following a career's worth of cumulative and insidious damage.

If the fact of injury were all that it took to win a lawsuit, the NFL and its various teams would find themselves in hot water. But the fact of injury is only the first step on a long trip to recovery.  I don’t know much about the particulars of each individual case, but I do know enough to explain why at the outset of this lawsuit the players are at a great disadvantage. 

Here are some of the difficulties.

Richard A. Epstein