Hearing Will Decide NFL's Responsibility for Brain Injuries

League faces a pile of lawsuits from players who have suffered from mental disorders.

Posted: 04/09/2013 09:22 AM EDT

There may be a long road ahead for the NFL as a hearing Tuesday could decide whether they will face litigation over concussion-related brain injuries, according to the Associated Press.

The league insists that their players' health are a priority, but thousands of former players still accuse the NFL of neglecting to inform them on the risks of playing football after concussions. 

Retired NFL players have suffered from dementia, depression and other brain diseases, and a few have committed suicide. 

The cases would take years to resolve and could cost the league billions of dollars if players win their lawsuits.

The family of Junior Seau, the NFL linebacker who committed suicide last year, sued the NFL for wrongful death caused by long-term brain damage and concussions, and helmet makers Riddell for making their equipment "negligent in their design." Seau was diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, after his death.

Also suing is former quarterback Jim McMahon, who is suffering from early-stage dementia.

Players are also more likely to die from Alzheimer’s and Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS) than the general population, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Quarterbacks, wide receivers and running backs accounted for the majority of these deaths.

Writes the Associated Press:

U.S. District Judge Anita Brody will hear arguments from Supreme Court litigators Paul Clement for the NFL and David Frederick for the players. Brody's ruling is not expected for several months, and is likely to be appealed by the losing side.

...[Players'] lawyers hope to use the discovery process to access NFL files, including those on the league's much-criticized Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee, which was formed in the 1990s and headed by a rheumatologist, not a neurologist.

(Kellee Terrell contributed to this article.)

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