3 Jul 2019

Law firms considering class action against NRL

4:27 pm on 3 July 2019

A class action against the NRL on behalf of players suffering concussion is being considered by two law firms.

University of Otago researchers are studying rugby players who have experienced multiple bouts of concussion.

Photo: 123RF

The firms, Bannister Law and Cahill Lawyers, have been investigating a potential class action for the past year and want current and former players worried about their brain health to come forward.

"We are looking at the clubs' and associations' liability for what are, we will allege, reasonably preventable brain injuries," Bannister Law principal Charles Bannister said in a statement on Wednesday.

"We will also allege that ARL, NRL and the clubs have had the resources, both medical and paramedical, to understand and implement protocols and policies that could and should have protected player welfare long before they were introduced."

The investigation revolves around the degenerative brain condition Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), which has been found in retired American NFL players and athletes from other high impact sports.

There was widespread concern CTE was caused by concussion incidents during play and that the rules of the respective games did not sufficiently take precautions to protect player safety.

The potential NRL class action was two-pronged.

Firstly, whether the rules took sufficient steps to protect players against concussion incidents.

And secondly, whether rules and safety protocols were implemented properly and allowed players time to recover from concussion incidents without sustaining permanent injury.

Bannister Law and Cahill Lawyers have been jointly investigating the issue for 12 months.

The investigations were exploring the root causes of post-retirement medical issues among numerous former NRL players, stating many of the symptoms experienced by these players were consistent with CTE.

The firms said they had already been in contact with many league players who held serious concerns about their brain health, and called for others to follow their lead.