A lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida in Ft. Lauderdale by a group of former NFL players. Listing the NFL and its 32 teams individually as defendants, the players seek to have the federal court recognize chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) as an occupational disease and force the NFL to in turn pay workers’ compensation benefits.
CTE is is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in athletes with a history of repetitive brain trauma. The symptoms of CTE can be debilitating and may have life-changing effects for the individual, including loss of memory, difficulty controlling impulsive or erratic behavior, impaired judgment, behavior disturbances and gradual onset dementia.
The NFL players maintain that they are permanently and totally disabled as a result of having CTE. They state that they cannot work and are financially destitute due to the symptoms and effects of CTE. The suit follows a $1 billion class action concussion settlement with families of players who died and retired players currently suffering from brain damage. Although the settlement was approved by the courts, it was appealed to the Supreme Court by a small group of players who argue that it does not address players who are likely to develop CTE in the future, but do not currently exhibit symptoms.