Family of ex-football star Junior Seau sues NFL over suicide

Wed Jan 23, 2013 7:18pm EST
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By Dan Whitcomb

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The family of former San Diego Chargers star Junior Seau, who killed himself last year, sued the National Football League on Wednesday, saying that brain damage he suffered during his 20 years in the league led to his suicide.

Seau's children and ex-wife, along with the trustee of his estate, also claim in the San Diego Superior Court lawsuit that the NFL has long concealed from its players and the public the risks of neurological injury in the sport.

"We know this lawsuit will not bring back Junior," the Seau family said in a statement. "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."

An NFL spokesman, Greg Aiello, told Reuters in an email that the league's attorneys would review the lawsuit and respond to the claims appropriately in court.

Seau, a 12-time Pro Bowl linebacker for the Chargers and two other NFL teams during his two-decade career, died last May after shooting himself in the chest at his beachfront home in Oceanside, California.

The lawsuit filed by his family, which claims fraud, negligence and wrongful death, seeks unspecified damages from the league and several football helmet makers.

It comes seven months after some 2,000 ex-NFL players sued the league in federal court in Philadelphia over similar allegations, consolidating more than 80 lawsuits.

A study by independent researchers found that Seau, 43, suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE - the same debilitating brain disease diagnosed in at least two other former NFL players who committed suicide.   Continued...

Family members hold up a No. 55 jersey as part of a ceremony held in memory of the late former USC Trojans, San Diego Chargers and NFL linebacker Junior Seau after the first quarter of the NCAA football game between the USC Trojans and the Hawaii Warriors in Los Angeles September 1, 2012. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok