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Former Florida Dolphin Junior Seau’s Family Sues N.F.L

The family of Junior Seau, who shot and killed himself last year, has sued the National Football League, along with the helmet maker Riddell and others, accusing them of hiding information about the risks associated with hits to the head.

Along with accusing the N.F.L. of downplaying the risks of collisions, the family is also claiming the N.F.L. failed to inform players about the risks associated with brain injuries. The family is seeking compensatory and punitive damages.

This month the National Institutes of Health said tissue samples from Seau’s brain showed that he had chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or C.T.E., a degenerative brain disease linked to repeated head hits and brain trauma.

Seau, 43, who played for the Florida Dolphins, New England Patriots and San Diego Chargers in his 20-season career, shot himself in the chest at his home in California in 2012.

Currently, more than 4,000 N.F.L players and their families have similar cases pending in federal court against the N.F.L. The N.F.L. has asked that the cases be dismissed, as the league’s collective bargaining agreement covers these issues.

According to U.S.A Today, there were 190 concussions reported in 320 preseason and regular season games in the 2011 season, down 12.5 from 2010.

In the 2010 season, the N.F.L. began to crack down on helmet-to-helmet hits in an attempt to reduce the amount of concussions suffered by players. The league issued large fines to players, particularly repeat offenders, and said suspensions would be considered for those who continued to commit illegal hits.

The N.F.L. has also implemented a rule that a player cannot return to a practice or game if he shows any of the symptoms of a concussion. A player also now must be analyzed by an independent neurologist as well as his team physician after a concussion.

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Source: The New York Times, “Junior Seau’s Family Sues N.F.L.,” Jan. 23, 2013.

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