Add Junior Seau’s family to the thousands of people who are suing the NFL over the long-term damage caused by concussions.
Seau’s ex-wife and four children sued the league Wednesday, saying the former linebacker’s suicide was the result of brain disease caused by violent hits he sustained while playing football.
The wrongful death lawsuit, filed in California Superior Court in San Diego, blames the NFL for its “acts or omissions” that hid the dangers of repetitive blows to the head. It says Seau developed chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) from those hits, and accuses the NFL of deliberately ignoring and concealing evidence of the risks associated with traumatic brain injuries.
Seau died at age 43 of a self-inflicted gunshot in May. He was diagnosed with CTE, based on posthumous tests, earlier this month.
An Associated Press review in November found that more than 3,800 players have sued the NFL over head injuries in at least 175 cases as the concussion issue has gained attention in recent years. The number of plaintiffs is 6,000 when spouses, relatives and other representatives are included.
Scores of the lawsuits have been brought together before U.S. District Judge Anita B. Brody in Philadelphia.
“Our attorneys will review it and respond to the claims appropriately through the court,” the NFL said in a statement Wednesday.
Helmet manufacturer Riddell Inc., also is a defendant, with the Seau family saying Riddell was “negligent in their design, testing, assembly, manufacture, marketing, and engineering of the helmets” used by NFL players. The suit says the helmets were unreasonably dangerous and unsafe.
Riddell issued a statement saying it is, “confident in the integrity of our products and our ability to successfully defend our products against challenges.”
Plaintiffs are listed as Gina Seau, Junior’s ex-wife; Junior’s children Tyler, Sydney, Jake and Hunter, and Bette Hoffman, trustee of Seau’s estate.
The lawsuit accuses the league of glorifying the violence in pro football, and creating the impression that delivering big hits “is a badge of courage which does not seriously threaten one’s health.”