Landmark class action chases up to $1bn compensation for alleged long-term concussion damage to AFL players | Concussion in sport
The action, lodged by Margalit Injury Lawyers in the supreme court of Victoria, is on behalf of all professional AFL players who sustained concussion-related injuries through head strikes while playing or training between 1985 and 14 March this year.
The lead plaintiff is Jarad Maxwell Rooke, better known as Max Rooke.
The dual premiership player was employed by the Geelong Football Club between 2001 and October 2010, and played 135 games during that time.
The class action alleges Rooke sustained permanent and life-altering injuries as a result of concussion-related injuries and because of the AFL’s negligence.
More than 60 former players have come forward to join the class action.
They are seeking compensation for pain and suffering, economic loss and medical expenses, Margalit Injury Lawyers said.
“The injuries suffered by this group of former AFL players, as a direct result of the concussions sustained while playing Aussie rules, has had a devastating impact on their lives and the lives of their loved ones,’’ the managing principal Michel Margalit said.
“Some of the players who have joined this landmark class action have never been able to hold down a job after leaving the AFL.
“Their personal lives have been shattered and they live with constant physical and mental pain. It’s heart-breaking and they need to be adequately cared for.”
Margalit said the firm was seeking about $2m a player plus medical expenses – and more players could join.
“The whole class action could cost the AFL close to $1bn,” she said.
“But we must remember that this is not about bringing down the AFL, this is about compensating these injured players, this compensation will come through insurance.”
The identities of the other players involved have not been made public but Margalit said they included former premiership players, well-known faces and lesser-known players.
“It’s things like memory loss, irritability, depression,” she said.
“You have these otherwise strapping, fit-looking blokes who might be crying in front of you within a few minutes of talking to them. It’s absolutely devastating.”
The firm is open to negotiating with the league and has been speaking with neurology experts in preparation for them to give evidence in court.
The writ points to a history of medical knowledge about the impacts of concussion and alleged it was reasonably foreseeable to the AFL that players were vulnerable to concussion caused by head strikes “at all relevant times”.
“Since at least 1992, it has been known that brain injuries are one of the most catastrophic athletic injuries and that once a player has incurred a concussion there is a heightened risk of a second or further concussion,” the writ said.
It cited the AFL’s alleged failure to make and enforce rules, policies, procedures and protocols in line with medical knowledge to reduce the incidence of concussion as evidence of its “negligence”.
The AFL also failed to adequately conduct risk assessments for head strikes and concussions and to educate players about the risks of long-term injury arising from concussion – particularly as they related to an early return to play, the writ said.
The AFL said it had not yet received formal correspondence regarding the class action.
“The AFL takes concussion and the protection of the brain health of all those playing our game extremely seriously,” a spokesperson said on Tuesday.
“Today we launched updated concussion guidelines for the elite game, where players that are diagnosed with concussion must pass the 11-steps of the return to play protocol of over a minimum of 12 days in order to be medically cleared to return to play.”
The AFL last year apologised to past players who were “let down” by the league’s concussion research project after an independent review criticised the study.
It was underfunded and under-resourced, the review found, and some AFL players still dumbed down their baseline concussion testing in pre-season to reduce the chance of a concussion diagnosis on game day.
- Law And Order Star Describes The 'Incredible' Experience Of Working With Anthony Anderson In Season 21
- Mary Mara, ‘ER’ and ‘Law and Order’ Actor, Dies at 61 in Apparent Drowning
- Mary Mara, ‘E.R.’ and ‘Law and Order’ Actor, Dies in Possible Drowning at 61
- ‘ER’ and ‘Law and Order’ Actress Dies at 61 – The Hollywood Reporter
- Law and Order: Socorro Police Department blotter