The family of former football star Junior Seau has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the National Football League alleging the former linebacker's suicide was caused by repeated violent head trauma he sustained while playing pro football.
The lawsuit, which was filed in California Superior Court in San Diego on Jan. 23, claims the NFL deliberately concealed evidence of the link between football-related head injuries and long-term brain damage.
A posthumous analysis of Junior's brain showed that the former New England Patriots star suffered from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), a condition diagnosed in more than 30 former NFL stars. Patients with CTE often suffer from impulsivity, forgetfulness, depression, dementia and suicidal tendencies.
Seau, who committed suicide in May 2012, experienced mood changes, depression and insomnia before he died, according to his ex-wife, Gina Seau. Seau died at age 43 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, as did former NFL stars Ray Easterling and Dave Duerson. In December 2012, former baseball star Ryan Freel shot himself to death at the age of 36. Freel had suffered nine to 10 concussions during his MLB career.
"We know this lawsuit will not bring back Junior," his family said in a statement released to the AP. "But it will send a message that the NFL needs to care for its former players, acknowledge its decades of deception on the issue of head injuries and player safety, and make the game safer for future generations."
In its lawsuit, the Seaus claim the NFL intentionally hid evidence because it places profits over people. "The NFL knew or suspected that any rule changes that sought to recognize that link [to brain disease] and the health risk to NFL players would impose an economic cost that would significantly and adversely change the profit margins enjoyed by the NFL and its teams," the Seaus allege.
The family is also suing football helmet maker Riddell Inc. for its "negligence in their design, testing, assembly, manufacture, marketing, and engineering of the helmets" used by NFL players.
The plaintiffs include Seau's ex-wife, Gina; his children Tyler, Sydney, Jake and Hunter, and Bette Hoffman, trustee of Seau's estate.