10 Apr 2013

Lawsuit over NFL brain injuries dismissed as 'workplace' issue

9:33 am on 10 April 2013

Lawyers have scrimmaged in a Philadelphia federal court over whether 4,200 former National Football League players can sue the league over brain injuries or whether the issue should be decided under the players' collective bargaining agreement.

The players want the case heard in court, their attorney David Frederick says, in what could be a high stakes challenge for both sides.

Frederick argues that the league failed to disclose information about the risks of playing football and "glorified violence at the expense of the players."

But the NFL's lawyer Paul Clement is calling it a case about workplace safety and says suing the league is not the way to go since the NFL Players Association has a collective bargaining agreement.

The hearing before US District Court Judge Anita Brody focused on the NFL's motion to dismiss the lawsuit, and the judge gave no indication as to when she would decide.

"I will rule when I sort these things out for myself," Brody said.

Outside the court, among those attending duelling press conferences was Mary Ann Easterling, widow of former Atlanta Falcons safety Ray Easterling, who committed suicide in April 2012 following his diagnosis of a degenerative brain disease that his lawyers said was linked to repeated concussive blows to the head.